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Nursing Diagnosis: Ineffective Health Maintenance

NOC Outcomes (Nursing Outcomes Classification)

Suggested NOC Labels

1. Health-Promoting Behavior

2. Self-Direction of Care

3. Health-Seeking Behavior

4. Social Support
NIC Interventions (Nursing Interventions Classification)
Suggested NIC Labels

1. Health System Guidance

2. Support System Enhancement

3. Discharge Planning

4. Health Screening

5. Risk Identification
NANDA Definition: Inability to identify, manage, and/or seek help to maintain health
Altered health maintenance reflects a change in an individual’s ability to perform the
functions necessary to maintain health or wellness. That individual may already manifest
symptoms of existing or impending physical ailment or display behaviors that are strongly
or certainly linked to disease. The nurse’s role is to identify factors that contribute to an
individual’s inability to maintain healthy behavior and implement measures that will result in
improved health maintenance activities. The nurse may encounter patients who are
experiencing an alteration in their ability to maintain health either in the hospital or in the
community, but the increased presence of the nurse in the community and home health
settings improves the ability to assess patients in their own environment. Patients most
likely to experience more than transient alterations in their ability to maintain their health
are those whose age or infirmity (either physical or emotional) absorb much of their
resources. The task before the nurse is to identify measures that will be successful in
empowering patients to maintain their own health within the limits of their ability.
Defining Characteristics:
1. Behavioral characteristics:
1. Demonstrated lack of knowledge
2. Failure to keep appointments
3. Expressed interest in improving behaviors
4. Failure to recognize or respond to important symptoms reflective of changing
health state
5. Inability to follow instructions or programs for health maintenance
2. Physical characteristics:
1. Body or mouth odor
2. Unusual skin color, pallor
3. Poor hygiene
4. Soiled clothing
5. Frequent infections (e.g., upper respiratory infection [URI], urinary tract infection
6. Frequent toothaches
7. Obesity or anorexia
8. Anemia
9. Chronic fatigue
10. Apathetic attitude
11. Substance abuse
Related Factors:
1. Presence of mental retardation, illness, organic brain syndrome
2. Presence of physical disabilities or challenges
3. Presence of adverse personal habits:
1. Smoking
2. Poor diet selection
3. Morbid obesity
4. Alcohol abuse
5. Drug abuse
6. Poor hygiene
7. Lack of exercise
4. Evidence of impaired perception
5. Low income
6. Lack of knowledge
7. Poor housing conditions
8. Risk-taking behaviors
9. Inability to communicate needs adequately (e.g., deafness, speech impediment)
10. Dramatic change in health status
11. Lack of support systems
12. Denial of need to change current habits
Expected Outcomes
1. Patient describes positive health maintenance behaviors such as keeping scheduled
appointments, participating in smoking and substance abuse programs, making diet and
exercise changes, improving home environment, and following treatment regimen.
2. Patient identifies available resources.
3. Patient uses available resources.

Ongoing Assessment

• Assess for physical defining characteristics. Changing ability or

interest in performing the normal activities of daily living
(ADLs) may be an indicator that commitment to health and
well-being is waning.

• Assess patient’s knowledge of health maintenance behaviors.

Patients may know that certain unhealthy behaviors can result
in poor health outcomes but continue the behavior despite this
knowledge. The health care provider needs to ensure that the
patient has all of the information needed to make good
lifestyle choices.

• Assess health history over past 5 years. This may give some
perspective on whether poor health habits are recent or
chronic in nature.

• Assess to what degree environmental, social, intrafamilial

disruptions, or changes have correlated with poor health behaviors.
These changes may be precipitating factors or may be early
fallout from a generalized condition reflecting decline.

• Determine patient’s specific questions related to health

maintenance. Patients may have health education needs;
meeting these needs may be helpful in mobilizing the patient.

• Determine patient’s motives for failing to report symptoms

reflecting changes in health status. Patient may not want to
"bother" the provider, or may minimize the importance of the

• Discuss noncompliance with instructions or programs with patient

to determine rationale for failure. Patient may be experiencing
obstacles in compliance that can be resolved.
• Assess the patient’s educational preparation and ability to
integrate and relate to information. Patients may not have
understood information because of a sensory impairment or
the inability to read or understand information. Culture or age
may impair a patient’s ability to comply with the established
treatment plan.

• Assess history of other adverse personal habits, including the

following: smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and alcohol or substance
abuse. Long-standing habits may be difficult to break; once
established, patients may feel that nothing positive can come
from a change in behavior.

• Determine whether the patient’s manual dexterity or lack of

mobility is a factor in patient’s altered capacity for health
maintenance. Patients may need assistive devices for
ambulation or to complete tasks of daily living.

• Determine to what degree patient’s cultural beliefs and

personality contribute to altered health habits. Health teaching may
need to be modified to be consistent with cultural or religious

• Determine whether the required health maintenance

facilities/equipment (e.g., access ramps, motor vehicle modifications,
shower bar or chair) are available to patient. With adequate
assistive devices, the patient may be able to effect enormous
changes in maintaining his or her personal health.

• Assess whether economic problems present a barrier to

maintaining health behaviors. Patients may be too proud to ask
for assistance or be unaware that Social Security, Medicare, or
insurance benefits could be helpful to them.

• Assess hearing, and orientation to time, place, and person to

determine the patient’s perceptual abilities. Perceptual handicaps
may impair an individual’s ability to maintain healthy

• Make a home visit to determine safety, accessibility, and quality

of living conditions. This will help identify and solve problems
that complicate health maintenance.
• Assess patient’s experience of stress and disruptors as they relate
to health habits. If stressors can be relieved, patients may again
be able to resume their self-care activities.
Therapeutic Interventions

• Follow up on clinic visits with telephone or home visits. This will

develop an ongoing relationship with patient and provide
ongoing support.

• Provide patient with a means of contacting health care providers.

This will add available resources for questions or problem

• Compliment patient on positive accomplishments. Positive

reinforcement enhances behavior change.

• Involve family and friends in health planning conferences. Family

members need to understand that care is planned to focus on
what is most important to the patient. This enables the patient
to maintain a sense of autonomy.

• Provide assistive devices (e.g., walker, cane, wheelchair) as

necessary. These promote independence and a sense of
Education/Continuity of Care

• Provide patient with rationale for importance of behaviors such as

the following:
 Balanced diet low in cholesterol This prevents vascular
 Smoking cessation Smoking has been directly linked to
cancer and heart disease.
 Cessation of alcohol and drug abuse In addition to physical
addictions and the social consequences, the physical
consequences of substance abuse mitigate against it.
 Regular exercise This promotes weight loss and increases
agility and stamina.
 Proper hygiene This decreases risk of infection and
promotes maintenance and integrity of skin and teeth.
 Regular physical and dental checkups Checkups identify and
treat problems early.
 Reporting of unusual symptoms to a health professional This
initiates early treatment.
 Proper nutrition
 Regular inoculations
 Early and regular prenatal care

• Ensure that other agencies (e.g., Department of Children and

Family Services [DCFS], Social Services, Visiting Nurse Association
[VNA], Meals-on-Wheels) are following through with plans.
Coordinated efforts are more meaningful and effective.