What is a health assessment?

Health assessment is a health evaluation process that points out and gathers information related to the patient's medical issue/issues on which the care plan is formulated. It identifies particular health necessities of a person and the way those will be arranged through the specific system or a skilled caregiver. A physical examination and other methods can identify the issues. The activity of particular caregivers can evaluate the health status after identifying the health history of the person. Different patterns of diagnostic tests exist for the person who is already showing signs or symptoms of a particular disease.

Importance of health assessment

It is the primary step of the nursing procedure. To evaluate the health of a person, it is mandatory to identify the basic problems through preliminary tests. It helps to identify the basic medical needs of the patient. The key role of a nurse is to take care of the patient. This is acknowledged as a tool for learning about the patient's concerns, symptoms, and overall health. A possible judgment can be done about a patient's changing health status and management.

Principles of health assessment

An appropriate and timely assessment provides a better establishment of nursing care and intervention.

  • The health assessment process should include certain data collection, documentation, and evaluation of the patient's physical condition.
  • The documents should be objective, accurate, concise, specific, and most up-to-date.
  • This needs to be performed in all types of settings whenever the interaction between a client and a nurse occurs.
  • Gathered or collected pieces of information are needed to be discussed with professional caregivers and specialists.
  • Confidentiality is needed to be maintained.

Types of health assessments

Initial assessment: It is a major health assessment through which the nature of the problem is identified. This one prepares the way for the upcoming assessment stages.

Focused assessment: In this method, the treatment procedures of the issue are exposed or guided.

Time-lapsed assessment: This one determines the patient's recovery and the stability of the health condition after implementing the treatment plan. It helps to evaluate the patient's reaction to the given treatment and how the condition is showing improvement. 

Emergency assessmentIt is another important health assessment. It primarily focuses on the immediate identification of the root causes of concern for the patient and maintains the airway passage for proper breathing and circulation. Evaluation of consciousness and safety is also part of the emergency assessment.

Shift assessment: It is carried out when individuals are hospitalized and nurses diagnose them in each shift. The purpose of this behavior is to identify the changes happening as a result of the ongoing treatment.

Screening: It is known as a short examination that is focused on disease detection. This can be performed in a confined space or a big health fair.

Physical examination and evaluation stages

The physical examination can be general or particular due to a specific problem. The physician must conduct a complete physical exam at least once a year. It can be frequent if serious health issues are involved. It is performed head to toe and generally lasts for 25-30 minutes. It measures vital signs like body temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen pressure, and heart rate. The evaluation process goes through some particular stages. It includes:

Inspection: Firstly, the patient is observed for identifying any cut, bruise, or any other physical damage. The eyes, face are checked then. After then, the neck veins, chest, abdomen are thoroughly assessed to find any issues of concern. The legs, elbows, and joints are followed after all these.

Palpation: In this stage, the examiner utilizes the hands to feel any invisible abnormality in the patient's body. During palpation, it should be focused that the patient must not get hurt. Deep palpation should also be avoided without clinical supervision. Without considering the patient's condition, one should avoid this procedure. Nurses need to be extra careful while palpating so that no vital artery would be damaged to restrict blood flow.

Percussion: This step is followed by "tapping" on certain areas in the body. This action helps to produce different sounds especially in the abdomen, back, and chest wall. Depending on the kind of sound that is produced over these regions, the nursing person may be able to determine from the fluid in the lungs or the masses of the stomach. Percussion is of three types- direct, indirect, and fist percussion. In the direct one, the sinus or infant thorax is assessed. The indirect one helps to evaluate the condition of the abdomen and thorax. The third one is practiced for the posterior side and kidney areas. The caregiver must know the sound variation of percussion so that it can detect the abnormality if present.

Auscultation: This is the action of listening to the sounds of the internal parts of the body. A stethoscope helps to carry out this process. It helps to understand the situation of the circulatory, respiratory system, and alimentary canal. Malfunction is detected in these regions by specific sounds over the tool. The irregularity of heartbeat is also identified. To perform this method, the person must exhibit good hearing acuity. The appropriate devices and detailed knowledge are also important for this assessment. The surrounding is also needed to be peaceful to hear the sound properly. It requires years of practice and immense concentration.

Primary care in a custody

Primary care is the day-to-day health care provided to patients to help them return to spend a healthy life and get back to their communities. The people in custody are provided with this type of care by professionals. It is carried out through different ways, which are-

  • The person has a face-to-face discussion with the consultants in the metropolitan areas. In rural and remote areas, they get telehealth. Through telephones, the health specialist communicates to the patients and provides the solution.
  • Healthcare plans have also been developed for managing acute and chronic diseases. Depending upon the patient’s situation, proper medications or treatments are given to them.
  • Physiotherapy services are important for people with bone issues. The bone health issue is very common for older or middle-aged people. Women suffer more after age 30. Taking care of bone health is necessary.
  • Eye tests are done for people who need glasses. Eye problems can generate other health problems like headaches, migraines, and so on. It can affect people of all ages.
  • Gender-specific services are provided to the women including uterine and breast screening solutions. Pregnant women also get proper treatment in the custody and are linked into community obstetric assistance on release.

Persons who deserve a proper health assessment

Children: Children over three years of age and under five should receive proper vaccinations and a repetitive clinical check-up.

Adults aged plus forty: Adults at this age must undergo a regular diabetes type 2 risk assessment every three years. This age is very much prone to diabetes due to its strenuous lifestyle and food habits. The best way to stay healthy at this age is to walk regularly.

People over the age of 75: Older people at this age must get a regular health check-up every year. The elder people at this age of life sometimes go through a daycare service. Adult daycare is an organized activity that is built up in a professional care setting. The older people who receive this service, also require proper supervision during the daytime. Older people who suffer from loneliness and isolation, also require this type of daycare service. This service enables the senior citizens to socialize and enjoy with same-aged people with additional health services.

Community health assessment

A public health examination is also known as community health estimation. This process refers to a particular state, tribal, local, or territorial health condition. This involves the collaboration of multiple health organizations to improve, plan, and implement several necessary steps for the betterment of public health. This program assembles a significantly large area for population-wide interventions and targeted outcomes. The organization collects information about the people living in those communities and also their family health history, observes common health problems that are visible in most of the people, and understands the availability and need for proper treatment. The health department ensures all these steps to be performed successfully and proceeds large investments based on comprehensive data collection. Community health improvement brings out a better version of certain geographical regions.

Community health assessment is undergoing in a certain community of country A.
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Lovelyn Obiakor

Components of health assessment

Two main components are known as Health history and Physical examination.

History involves the collection of subjective data of a patient's health in an appropriate chronology. The provided data consists of biographic, chief complaints, history of present illness, past health reports, family health information, occupational and environmental history, psychological issues, and analysis of systems. The treatment is carried out by the evidence-based reports as per the family or the person's previous history.

Concept of healthcare

After completing the assessment, a person is directed for the necessary treatments. To become a healthy person, the person is given proper care to improve his health. It is ensured by the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, cure, or recovery of the disease. The professionals or specialists mainly handle this part of the medical service.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) - A threat to the worldwide community

Coronavirus disease is a global pandemic that started in the year 2019. The minority communities are at risk due to the weakened healthcare infrastructure, lower socioeconomic level. The public health practice has implicated the "COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index tool" that can assist in identifying the communities most at risk. The sign and symptoms of this issue involve respiratory malfunctions, fever, cough, shortness of breath. In severe cases, complicated infections like pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, and even death occur. To suitably control or manage the outbreak of this problem, several strategies are adopted and primarily include screening, containment, and mitigation.

Screening is usually carried out by a device called a thermometer to measure body temperature. Fever is identified as one of the most important signs of this disease. Suppression or containment is applied in the early or initial stages of the outbreak and determines to isolate the infected to stop further spreading. The third step is a mitigation stage where measures are carried out to slow down the growth of this virus and mitigate its consequences on the healthcare systems and society.


  • A thorough and accurate assessment is significant because it assists in differentiating the normal condition from the abnormal person.
  • This establishes if a patient needs diagnostic testing or additional medical care.
  • It is a preventive measure for people who have health risks and for healthy people it helps them to assess their well-being.

Context and Application

Students learn about this part usually in the field of Medical science and a bit in Biology. This is utilized in many ways but mostly for routine patient care. This is also regarded as the primary training in the Nursing field.

Common Mistakes

In the case of assessing a person's health, it is important to look out for the surrounding environment of the patient. A patient has a complete right to change his or her mind, so they can never be forced in getting the assessment. If any mistake has occurred with previous experience, that should not be repeated the next time.

Some concepts are closely related to the health assessment. Whenever students study on it, they usually gain some knowledge on-

  • Health and Wellness
  • Disease diagnosis
  • Nursing assessment
  • Nursing diagnosis
  • Nursing care

Practice Problems

  1. What is the most important tool utilized for auscultation?
    1. Stethoscope
    2. Thermometer
    3. Backrub
    4. Abundant knowledge of the sound produced by internal body fluid

Correct Answer: a. Stethoscope

  1. What is the needful duty to perform to check whether a person is having the COVID-19 disease?
    1. Measuring the body temperature
    2. Noticing the signs of allergies
    3. Measuring the oxygen pressure in the body
    4. Noticing the person's hearing capability

Correct Answer: c. Measuring the oxygen pressure in the body

  1. What are the utilities of the COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index Tool?
    1. To check symptoms
    2. To detect the nearest affected person
    3. To estimate the approximate number of the affected person
    4. All of the above

Correct Answer: d. All of the above

  1. What is diabetes?
    1. Mental illness
    2. Urinary infection
    3. Pancreatic disorder
    4. Liver disease

Correct Answer: c. Pancreatic disorder

  1. What is the major function of emergency health assessment?
    1. To identify the root cause of the problem
    2. Cure the patient
    3. Admit under Intensive care unit
    4. None of the above

Correct Answer: a. To identify the root cause of the problem

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