A Comprehensive Health Assessment

Health assessment is an important approach used by caregivers to determine the patient's true health problem. Health-care services are changing at a breakneck pace. The changes in the health sector necessitate that learners keep up to speed on new information on a regular basis. A thorough health evaluation is an examination of a patient's social and behavioral changes (Heilbrun et al., 2002). The assessment includes information on the patient's health risks as well as potential therapies that can be used to protect the patient from unfavorable results.

An interview can be conducted to get patient health information and to assess the individual's health state. Additionally, patient’s medical history can be reviewed to give an insight on the health of an individual. Physical examination, on the contrary, involves taking an educated look and establishing physical information that help in knowing the health condition of an individual (Jarvis, 2008). Before any diagnosis starts, physical examination has to be performed, which is done wisely, using lead questions that help the assessor or a medical practitioner to determine the next cause of action. It is paramount for nursing professional to have knowledge on how to assess the medical conditions of patients, because reflecting on the history given by the patient is the starting point to giving the right medical care.

Strategy Used to Assess Patient’s Social Determinants

Social determinants are the aspects that people grow and live in, which surround the healthy lives of the individuals. Social determinant factors are socioeconomic class, employment, ability to access medical care services, and others (Jarvis, 2008). These have direct implication to people’s health. In regard to the present assessed case study, the information of the patient was accessed through interview, which was basically a one-on-one interrogation that gathered information about the housewife. The following structured questions were designed to enable receiving the right information about the patient.

Are you in any form of employment?

Do you have any form of medical cover to access health care provider?

How long have you been in pain? Do you possess the ability to quantitatively state the exact number of days?

Are you allergic to any diet?

How does the physical environment affect you?

What is your education status?

From the assessment of the patient, it is clear that she has abdominal pain that she had been experiencing for the last two days. The patient will have to reduce the movement and be kept on check for several days. Since it was identified she is a house wife, she could be involved in some heavy duties at work. The patient could be kept in check and be advised to reduce heavy duties, which could be contributing to abdominal pains. The patient did not have her own health insurance, but was covered under her husband’s insurance, as she was in no employment. The patient reported that she was not educated, as she dropped from school before she went to high school. She did not have proper information about her health and what she needed to do to live a healthy life, which also affected her decisions to seek medical care. She confirmed that sometimes, she seeks advice from fellow housewives instead of visiting a health facility for professional advice. The patient said that she did not have any allergies to any type of diet. She will be advised to stop using multivitamins and stick to the recommended right diet. Abdominal pains could be the side effects of the multivitamin drugs. Since the human body differs, it is possible the interaction of drugs with the body fluids might have negative effect on the patient. As a professional in the field, the patient requires some regular check up to clearly ascertain the problem, which is achieved through putting her in a schedule of clinic for evaluation (Larouche et al., 2003).

Patient’s Economic Stability Affecting Access to Healthcare

Healthcare access is strongly dependent on the economic stability of the individual. The patient is a housewife that reported that she entirely depended on her spouse’s income. Since her household has only a single source of income, the cost of getting quality service has been increasing as the time progress. Because of her economic instability, she is not able to get quality services. As a consequence, she is not able to benefit from health cover like most of the employed people. Additionally, her housing capability is jeopardized, as most of the family income is spent on housing and other home affairs, leaving her with little ability to secure her health.

Patient’s Educational Status Affecting Health Condition

Educational status is one of the major factors that influence an individual’s health. The patient in this case study has little education, which has made it very hard for her to access health information that is freely provided in the different platforms. As a result, she has not been able to make informed decisions about her health. She is ignorant about her health and the available information that can help her seek medical advice from professionals (Perry, 2009). Poor educational status of patients is linked to ignorance concerning better health choices, and sometimes, the patients may diagnose themselves without the guidance of the right medical approach. Consequently, poor educational status lead the patient to wrong medication that is self-prescribed, because the patient does not seek medical advice in the proper manner.

Patient’s Health and Healthcare Status Affecting Quality of Life

Quality of life is dependent on the quality of life one adopts. A sick person has no potential to enjoy life like a healthy person. The woman in this case has constant abdominal pain, which means that she does not enjoy her life as intended, as her work at home is affected negatively. If the medical condition persists, it can consume a lot of funds, which could have been used in other developments. The health status of the woman can negatively affect her quality of life, because it would affect the economic status of the family by increasing the cost of living (Saleh, 2013). Medical conditions have left most of the families vulnerable to poor living standard.

Patient’s Neighborhood and Environment Affecting Access to Health

People living in high-income areas are likely to receive high quality healthcare compared to those, who live in low-income places. The current patient lives in the poor neighborhood and environment, which limits her from accessing quality healthcare. Health facilities are mostly located in the rich neighborhood. This may be discriminating against low-income earners that live in the poor neighborhood (Perry, 2009).

Notably, people living in rural areas have a challenge accessing medical services because the healthcare providers are less (Jarvis, 2008). Good neighborhoods and environments have centralized services, and access to services is faster and convenient. It should be understood that the neighborhood affects the frequency to access healthy foods. For example, people living in good neighborhood have no access to variety of foods as compared to those in poor areas.

Why Social Determinants Need to Be Addressed in Comprehensive Health Assessment

From the assessment, the top three health determinants for the patients are employment, education and neighborhood (Saleh, 2013). These factors are very pertinent to individual’s life. Information from these social determinants shows that the income is derailing access to healthcare services. It is evident that education on health matters is missing, and plan for care for this patient can be designed basing it to the information given.

Firstly, this particular patient should be educated on the need to monitor her health and report to healthcare service whenever the condition appears (Perry, 2009). Secondly, cheap services, which are available, should be exposed to the patient to avoid being limited by her financial position. Lastly, emotional strength and support is required to have the patient appreciate herself. The major barrier to implementation of these plans is lack of support from the family members. To achieve the above plans, it requires various parties, who would enable the patient recover completely. Some of the family members might not be willing to stand with the patient. Regular visit to the patient and assessing them further would enable to evaluate the progress. In addition, interacting and engaging family members would help give more information about the patient.

Differences between a comprehensive health assessment and a physical health assessment

To complete a complementary health assessment, one needs to examine the health risks and any necessary information about a patient and or the patient’s family members. Other than that, it is apparent to conduct an assessment of the behavioral and social influences that affect the patient either directly or indirectly. For one to obtain this information, he or she may do a one-on-one interview with the patient. Interviewing is one of the most reliable means of acquiring information while conducting research (Seidman, 2013). What the author implies is that one can collect credible and useful information by carrying out an interview. Therefore, one can argue that the information gathered from patients during an interview is reliable. As such, one can rely on such information to conduct a credible and dependable health assessment.

Besides interviewing, one may also obtain relevant information by inferring to the medical records of the patient. According to Shivade, patient records are reliable sources of obtaining information that might be useful for the diagnosis and treatment of patients (2014). This statement implies that medical practitioners may get credible information and use the same in establishing a reliable and sufficient supplementary health assessment.

The basic tenets for a comprehensive health assessment include but are not limited to the following; family, social and cultural characteristic of the patient, medical history, assessment of the patient’s health literacy, and an assessment of behaviors affecting health. Also, it entails an evaluation of drug and substance abuse as well as mental health of the patients and his or her family. Besides, one needs to conduct a series of screening that is critical to determining the patient’s health status. The screening includes; depression and developmental screening using standardized tools. Last but not least, comprehensive health assessment for patients with an active are required to attend a reassessment during every visit.

Physical assessment, on the other hand, entails conducting a systematic study of all the health aspects of an individual. To achieve reliable results, one needs to utilize the knowledge of the patient’s health history and results of a physical examination. The purpose of conducting a physical health assessment include; first, to obtain information on the physiological, sociocultural, psychological, and spiritual aspects of a patient’s health. Second, a medical practitioner may recommend a physical health assessment of the patient to either an actual or a potential problem from which the patient might suffer. Forbes et al. assert that physical health assessment is essential in ensuring that any complications that may arise or influence a patient’s health status are detected (2015). Lastly, it may be helpful for the establishment of a relationship or rather an understanding between the nurse and the patient.

Moreover, unlike in complimentary health assessment, medical practitioners perform a physical examination of the patient while performing a physical health assessment. In complementary health analysis, the doctors rely only on the interview with the patient as well as his or her medical records to determine the patient’s health status. On the other side, the major tenet for physical health assessment is the physical examination of the patient’s body organs. Judging from the outline of both health assessments, one may note that the complimentary assessment looks into nearly all the health aspects that may influence a patient’s health status, while on the other side, a physical health assessment is more concerned with just the physical dimension of the patients’ health.


Social determinant factors have an overall impact to the wellbeing of the patient. It is evident that they give useful health information. Nurses have the responsibility to assess the patient using all social health determinants to have a comprehensive understanding. It aims at understanding the patient in depth and gives a direction in designing the right plan to offer healthcare services.


Forbes, H., & Watt, E. (2015). Jarvis's Physical Examination and Health Assessment. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Heilbrun, K., Marczyk, G. R., & DeMatteo, D. (2002). Forensic mental health assessment: A casebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jarvis, C. (2008). Physical examination & health assessment. St. Louis, Mo: Saunders Elsevier.

Larouche, D., Lamarche, P. A., Chauvette, M., & Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. (2003). Choices for change: The path for restructuring primary healthcare services in Canada: report. Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Health Services Research Foundation.

Perry, I. (2009). Safety puzzles for healthcare and health services. Amherst, Mass: HRD Press.

Saleh, K. (2013). The health sector in Ghana: A comprehensive assessment. Washington, D.C: World Bank.

Seidman, I. (2013). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. Teachers college press.

Shivade, C., Raghavan, P., Fosler-Lussier, E., Embi, P. J., Elhadad, N., Johnson, S. B., & Lai, A. M. (2014). A review of approaches to identifying patient phenotype cohorts using electronic health records. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 21(2), 221-230.

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