comment tammy 2 |


A vulnerable population is a group that is more likely going to develop health-related problems.   They are more likely to have problems accessing health care, and are more likely to have shorter life spans and poorer outcomes.   Not all persons that are at risk for poor health are vulnerable.   To be vulnerable, there must be aggravating factors that place them at greater risk for on-going poor health.

The more risk factors, the more vulnerable.   Nurses must identify risk factors that are amendable to intervention (Maurer & Smith, 2013, p. 528) .

At risk populations are sometimes associated with   people that exibit concerns with communication, medical, independence, supervision, and transportation services.   The key is based on understanding how a person functions on a daily basis (Minnesota Department of Health, 2016) .     At risk populations would be those with cancer, people with transplants, people with HIV, pregnancy, and diabetes.   Some groups that would be   considered vulnerable would be   the econmical disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, the uninsured -low income children, the elderly, the mentally ill,   and the homeless.  

In L&D, we see a group that is vulnerable, the pregnant homeless woman.     There is a pattern that typically follows; no support system, substance abuse issues, and   mental health issues.     This group has a hard time advocating for themselves due to the systems many hurdles and also the mear fact, these women tend to have mental health unstabilites.   Substance abuse further complicates their plight.   We have services in place to help them find a living situation that would be in their best interest, however, they are still able to accept or decline help.   We see this population coming in to the OB triage frequently to obtain some prenatal care, which is better than none.   It is frightening for them, they know their child will be taken away from them, they also may fear repurcutions of their drug use concerning their baby.     In South Carolina, drug abuse by a pregnant woman is the toughest in the nation.   In 1997, a South Carolina court ruled that expectant mothers who use drugs can be convicted of child abuse, dozens of women in that state have faced charges due to their drug abuse (“Pregnant and homeless,” 2001) .   Being part of this vulnerable population puts the woman and unborn baby at-risk.   These women fall through the cracks without proper advocacy.   There is so much that needs to be done to help this woman find success in her life, it is overwhelming for the nurse and professionals trained in this area, we can only imagine how heavy this burden must be for the woman when she stands alone.

Amy Winehouse had borderline personality disorder, this was her vulnerability, this made her susceptible to self-destructive behaviors.   Freddy Mercury (Queen) was a member of an at-risk population, he was a gay man with HIV.   This made his body vulnerable to AIDS.   Amy and Freddy lost their lives due to their vulnerability and at-risk factors.   We all carry our histories in our bodies.


Maurer, F. A., & Smith, C. M. (2013). Vulnerable populations. In Community/public health nursing practice (5th ed., pp. 527-551). [Elsevier].

Minnesota Department of Health. (2016).

Pregnant and homeless. (2001). Retrieved from

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