Nurses: agents of change in improving patient outcomes

nurses patient empowerment

International Nurses Day – celebrated on May 12 each year to mark Florence Nightingale’s birthday – is an opportunity to pay tribute to the dedication and innovation of nurses, and the role they play in providing care to patients worldwide. 

Nurses are working more than ever to provide care that is resulting in more aware and better informed patients.

Through their knowledge and experience, nurses are empowering and educating the people they care for, but also inspiring behavioural change that is resulting in improved outcomes. Indeed, studies consistently show that the more control people have over their healthcare, the better the results.



The role of behavioural change


Behavioural change is the process of changing the regular habits of people to improve health outcomes.

For example, encouraging people with chronic conditions to stop smoking or to change their diet and exercise regimens can help improve the management of their condition.

Change – such as lifestyle transformations or habit-forming modifications, like adherence to medication – hinges on patient engagement and empowerment: patients must want to make change happen, and for this they need relevant advice and support.


Nurses are essential to fostering this empowerment and behavioural change. They have ongoing relationships with the people they care for, and they also develop relationships with the person’s family and support network.

This provides a holistic view of each person’s medical and lifestyle needs and means they are in an ideal position to offer interventions such as information, patient support programs, action-planning and confidence-building throughout a treatment journey.



Read also Sabina De Geest’s interview, Director of the Institute of Nursing science at the University of Basel (Switzerland)

“Patient empowerment: a major task for nurses”



Patient centricity – why it matters


Patient control and engagement is also at the heart of Sanofi’s vision for improved health outcomes, with sanofi Patient Centricity unit as part of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Division.

For example, the company’s Diabetes and Cardiovascular Global Business Unit is focused on the development of patient support programs, services and tools that help improve adherence and overall outcomes for people with diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cardiometabolic disorders, and multiple chronic conditions.

Maximizing patient engagement helps to identify individual needs and build interventions that address them.


However, behavioural change goes far beyond information and education – patient support programs, toolkits and literature based on behavioural change are only the first step. Treatment plans have to be based on individual needs and shaped around an understanding of what is appropriate and achievable for each person.

It’s also important to take the time to feed back to the patient to ensure their progress can be measured and appreciated over time. Continuous monitoring with an action plan can play a key role in ensuring the management of the condition stays on track.


Nurses are in daily contact with patients, and are able to provide this continuity of care, address individual concerns, assess feelings and behaviours, and explain the impact of everyday habits on health outcomes.

Nurses are also best-placed to assess the limitations of treatment and any problems with adherence that need to be better managed.

Thanks to this central role in the provision of healthcare, nurses are able to innovate in the workplace, and introduce ideas or techniques spontaneously as a result of their experience and patient interactions. One European academic called nurses “the grease in the primary care innovation machinery”. 



For all these reasons, we celebrate International Nurses Day and pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of these highly valued health professionals.

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