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Posted: July 14th, 2023

Nursing Assessments: Focused and Comprehensive

Nursing Assessments: Focused and Comprehensive

. Briefly describe the type(s) of nursing health assessments you commonly perform.

Explain how your nursing health assessments are focused or comprehensive.
Provide examples of key subjective and objective data collected by nurses in this setting.

Nursing Assessments: Focused and Comprehensive

Nursing assessments play a crucial role in providing holistic and patient-centered care. These assessments serve as the foundation for effective nursing interventions and the development of appropriate care plans. In the field of nursing, two primary types of assessments are commonly performed: focused assessments and comprehensive assessments. Each type serves a distinct purpose in gathering pertinent patient information, and this article aims to provide a detailed understanding of these assessment approaches.

Focused Nursing Assessments

Focused nursing assessments are targeted evaluations that concentrate on specific health concerns or issues affecting the patient. These assessments are typically performed in response to identified signs, symptoms, or complaints. The primary objective of a focused assessment is to gather information directly related to the specific problem at hand, enabling the nurse to determine the appropriate course of action. By honing in on the specific issue, nurses can efficiently collect and analyze data, saving time and resources.

For instance, if a patient presents with shortness of breath and chest pain, a focused assessment would be directed towards assessing the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. The nurse would collect subjective data, such as the patient’s description of the symptoms, their duration, and any associated factors. Objective data, including respiratory rate, oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, would also be obtained. By focusing solely on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, the nurse can gather targeted information to inform immediate interventions and guide further diagnostic investigations.

Comprehensive Nursing Assessments

In contrast to focused assessments, comprehensive nursing assessments provide a broader and more in-depth evaluation of the patient’s overall health status. These assessments are typically conducted upon admission to a healthcare facility or as part of routine check-ups. The aim is to gather a comprehensive picture of the patient’s physical, psychological, sociocultural, and environmental factors that may influence their health.

During a comprehensive assessment, nurses collect subjective data by engaging in open-ended conversations with the patient to obtain detailed information about their medical history, current complaints, lifestyle, and psychosocial aspects. Objective data is obtained through physical examinations, laboratory tests, and diagnostic procedures. Comprehensive assessments also involve evaluating the patient’s vital signs, body systems, functional abilities, and assessing their overall well-being.

For example, during a comprehensive assessment, a nurse may ask the patient about their past medical history, family history of diseases, current medications, allergies, and lifestyle habits such as exercise, diet, and tobacco use. Physical examinations would include assessing the patient’s head-to-toe physical appearance, inspecting their skin for any abnormalities, auscultating the heart and lungs, and palpating the abdomen for tenderness or masses. Laboratory tests, such as blood work or imaging studies, may also be ordered to further assess the patient’s health status comprehensively.

Key Subjective and Objective Data

In both focused and comprehensive nursing assessments, subjective and objective data are collected to gain a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s health. Subjective data refers to information provided by the patient or their caregiver, including symptoms, feelings, and perceptions. Objective data, on the other hand, comprises measurable and observable facts obtained through physical examinations, laboratory tests, and diagnostic procedures.

In a focused assessment scenario, subjective data might include the patient’s description of pain, discomfort, or other symptoms specific to the targeted issue. Objective data would involve physical observations, such as abnormal lung sounds or abnormal vital signs related to the respiratory or cardiovascular system.

In a comprehensive assessment, subjective data encompasses a wide range of patient information, such as medical history, current complaints, and psychosocial factors that may impact their health. Objective data includes the results of physical examinations, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. For instance, objective data collected during a comprehensive assessment might include blood pressure readings, laboratory values, or abnormal findings during a physical examination.

Nursing assessments are essential components of patient care, serving as the foundation for developing effective care plans and interventions. Focused assessments target specific health concerns, while comprehensive assessments provide a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s overall health status. By collecting both subjective and objective data, nurses can gain valuable insights into the patient’s condition and tailor their care accordingly. These assessments ensure that nursing interventions are evidence-based, patient-centered, and promote positive patient outcomes.


Jukkala, A., Henly, S. J., Lindeke, L., & Tucker, S. (2016). Nursing Staffing and Patient Outcomes. In N. L. Gage (Ed.), The Science of Clinical Nursing Practice (pp. 151-182). Springer Publishing Company.

Keating, S. B., & DeBoor, S. S. (2018). Focused Assessment: The Diagnostic Process. In C. M. King & M. C. Duffy (Eds.), Nursing Diagnosis Handbook (12th ed., pp. 1-12). Elsevier.

Mion, L. C., & Wood, K. (2016). Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. In C. M. Boltz, E. Capezuti, T. Fulmer, & D. Zwicker (Eds.), Evidence-Based Geriatric Nursing Protocols for Best Practice (5th ed., pp. 55-70). Springer Publishing Company.

Potter, P. A., Perry, A. G., Stockert, P., & Hall, A. (2017). Physical Assessment and Examination. In Fundamentals of Nursing (9th ed., pp. 714-761). Elsevier.

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