Purpose: Traditionally, nursing care has focused primarily on patients' problems and to solve these problems on behalf of the patient. However, with the growing focus in health care on patient-centered care, self-management of illness, and patient empowerment, the problem-oriented approach to nursing care is no longer sufficient. Assessing and strengthening patients' health assets has evolved into a complementary approach to problem-focused care, helping patients achieve and maintain their health and wellness. This requires a clear definition of the concept of health assets and a better understanding of their role in overall health and wellness. The purpose of this paper was to examine the concept of health assets, including its attributes, associated concepts, and application in a health care context.
Methods: We systematically reviewed 60 journal articles and Web documents dated from 1966 through March 2007. Data were then analyzed using Rodger's evolutionary method of concept analysis.
Results: The health assets concept has not been widely used in health care. However, use has increased during recent years within multiple disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, nursing, medicine, social sciences, and public health. This concept analysis identified core attributes of health assets to be potentials in the individuals' possession. The core attributes embraces relational, motivational, protective, and volitional strengths, which are internal; and support, expectations of others, and physical and environmental elements, which are external. The antecedents of health assets are genes, values, beliefs, and life experiences. Health assets mobilize an individual to engage in deliberation, decision making, and change. Consequences of health assets are positive health behaviors that can lead to mastery, self-actualization, and improved health outcomes. We propose both a definition of health assets and a descriptive model of its components and relationships.
Conclusion: Focusing nursing care on a person's health assets, as a complement to the traditional approach of addressing a person's health problems, may contribute to improved health behavior and outcomes. Health assets should, therefore, receive greater attention in nursing practice, education, and research.
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