At Risk or Vulnerable Populations

At Risk or Vulnerable Populations

There is a difference between a group at risk for poor health and vulnerable population. According to Stanhope and Lancaster (2014), a group at risk is a population with a commonly identified risk exposure that threatens their health. For example, older people are at risk of getting respiratory diseases and cancer. A vulnerable population is a group that is more likely to develop health problems by Stanhope and Lancaster (2014). The vulnerable population finds it difficult to access health care to discuss those problems. Hence they are likely to face a poor outcome or a shorter lifespan. Most vulnerable populations live in an environment with limited resources. For example, immigrants in Florida in the United States and children in war zone areas like Syria. These people are faced with various risk factors that cause chronic stress such as barriers to access health, unsafe housing and frequent wars.

According to Lundy and Janes (2009), individuals or community that is continuously faced with stressful situations become immobilized. Most of these groups are unable to advocate for themselves because they are victimized, abused and neglected. For example, older adults are unable to advocate for their needs because of their high dependency and chronic health impairment.

As a community health nurse, it is my responsibility to advocate on behalf of vulnerable groups. I will write and call government representatives and speak to professional and community organizations about the problems and needs of high-risk groups. I will work with the coalition of providers and citizen groups to advocate the needs of the older adult population

Being able to advocate for vulnerable populations, dignifying care is a key concept in the field. Respect for people and their autonomous choices is important. Vulnerable populations especially older people have a right to make decisions about their ideas. Another ethical issue to be addressed is confidentiality. This is where information about a person or group is only shared with others after permission of the person.


Andre, Judith (2002), Bioethics as Practice, Chapel Hill, and London: University of North Carolina

Bankoff, Greg; et al. (2004). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. London: Earth scan.

Lundy, K. S., & Janes, S. (2009). Community health nursing: Caring for the public’s health. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2012). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (8th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Mosby.