When we consider strategies for increasing consumer participation in the policy process, it is important to understand that the persons who are in charge of making decisions for healthcare related interest groups and organizations have the following levels of power available to them: power based on expertise, positional power, and power based on the capacity to reward or compel (Longest, 2010). Until taking this course on Health Policy and Innovation, my ability to impact and/or my personal influence on policy making was something that I was very naive to. It seems that most people do not think their opinion really matters, or they don’t understand how government impacts their lives (Kraft & Furlong, 2013). As leaders in healthcare, it is imperative that the DNP is not only aware of their ability to impact policy making but that we are also active participants in making changes that will impact our profession and our patients. We have the knowledge and capacity to educate others and encourage them to become more involved with policy making, as it impacts our practice as nurse practitioners, patients, friends, families, and communities. In one way or another the policy process influences most aspects of our lives.
The strategy that has been most evident in increasing consumer participation in the policy process of eliminating or reducing trans fat has been that of advertising and food labeling. In many ways national advertising campaigns and federal food labeling requirements have educated and informed consumers of the trans fat content of their foods. While this may have decreased some trans fat intake, it has certainly not made a huge impact on reducing trans fats in the diets of the majority of American consumers. Is this because they are unaware of the deleterious outcomes of consuming trans fats? Or is it possible that consumers simply do not care about the negative impacts that trans fats can have on their overall health? What will make people want to change and improve their health?
Preventing disease and promoting healthy lifestyles are standards of nursing practice (American Nurses Association, 2010). To get involved with policy changes and change the obesity epidemic, the ANA encourages nurses to educate, advocate, and create partnerships.
American Nurses Association (2010). Fighting childhood obesity: Taking a stand to control and epidemic one child at a time. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/Issue-Briefs/Childhood-Obesity.pdf
Kraft, M. E., & Furlong, S. R. (2013). Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press
Longest, B.B. (2010). Health policymaking in the United States (5thed.). Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press.