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Posted: December 2nd, 2022

Individual Responsibility versus Victim Blaming in Health Promotion

Individual Responsibility versus Victim Blaming in Health Promotion
Challenges Program Planners Face
Program planners face diverse challenges when they are strategizing on how to communicate to the public. One of the challenges is to ensure the patients take responsibility for their actions. Sometimes patients do not appreciate that their personal behavior could to illnesses (Jancey et al., 2016). Public health statistics indicate that many diseases occur due to lifestyles such as lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits, drinking alcohol, smoking, and engaging in unprotected sex. The challenge is to make people realize that their actions are responsible for the diseases (Atadokht et al., 2018). Healthcare workers who fail to inform the patients about their illness’s reality cannot promote positive health outcomes in public.
A healthcare worker may feel empathy for a patient with sex-transmitted infections. It would be a challenge to inform them that their irresponsible behavior led to the illness (Berry, 2020). In some cases, individuals may come from minority rural communities with poor access to care and healthcare information (Atadokht et al., 2018). For example, ignorance may expose individuals to diseases such as obesity or HIV/AIDs. A healthcare worker has a responsibility to balance the duty to provide care and inform the patient that their negative behavior contributed to the illness (Adler & Stewart, 2009). Practitioners must find the best words to express their concern to prevent such occurrences in the future. For example, informing a patient that unprotected sex or multiple sex partners can increase exposure to HIV/AIDs is crucial in preventing further spread of the infection or deterioration of the condition (Berry, 2020). Healthcare planners should communicate in a manner that will educate the patients and show them the impact of their actions on the health status.
Individual Responsibility versus Victim Blaming
It is possible to ensure patients learn about their individual responsibility and accept the blame for exposing themselves to infection. Program planners and healthcare workers are responsible for achieving the two goals (Shelton et al., 2018). The focus is to start with showing a patient that they are responsible for their health. The approach is effective in ensuring a proactive method of preventing illnesses in the future. For example, patients should learn that eating healthy meals can contribute to healthy cardiac condition and body weight (Shelton et al., 2018). The approach demonstrates the responsibility that individuals should take in safeguarding their health. Patient education shows patients what they should do to improve or sustain their current health condition.
Victim blaming is possible since it emphasizes educating a patient that they should avoid behaviors that put their health at risk. People who engage in negative behavior should know how they contribute to illnesses (Bognar, 2020). For example, some people smoke or take alcohol for fun. Others engage in unprotected sex due to peer pressure. The behaviors can lead to diabetes, sexually-transmitted illnesses, or cardiac arrest. In some cases, doctors have to point out the behavior causing the disease and recommend cessation of the behavior (Bognar, 2020). For example, patients who take alcohol have diabetes can receive a warning or recommendation from a healthcare worker that the behavior will lead to adverse health outcomes. The warning is crucial in ensuring that individuals change their lifestyles to enhance the quality of their health (Golden et al., 2015). Healthcare workers are responsible for recommending some resources that patients should use to enhance the quality of health.

Atadokht, A., Rahimi, S., & Valinejad, S. (2018). The Role of Health Promoting Lifestyle and Religious Orientation in Predicting Quality of Life and Death Anxiety in Elders. Aging Psychology, 4(2), 143-154.
Berry, E. M. (2020). The Obesity Pandemic—Whose Responsibility? No Blame, No Shame, Not More of the Same. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7, 2.
Bognar, G. (2020). The Mismarriage of Personal Responsibility and Health. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 29(2), 196-204.
Jancey, J., Barnett, L., Smith, J., Binns, C., & Howat, P. (2016). We need a comprehensive approach to health promotion. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 27(1), 1-3.
Shelton, R. C., Cooper, B. R., & Stirman, S. W. (2018). The sustainability of evidence-based interventions and practices in public health and health care. Annual Review of Public Health, 39, 55-76.
Golden, S. D., McLeroy, K. R., Green, L. W., Earp, J. A. L., & Lieberman, L. D. (2015). Upending the social ecological model to guide health promotion efforts toward policy and environmental change.
Adler, N. E., & Stewart, J. (2009). Reducing obesity: motivating action while not blaming the victim. The Milbank Quarterly, 87(1), 49-70.

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