Focused and Comprehensive Assessment

Focused and Comprehensive Assessment

Nursing assessment is the process of gathering information about the patient’s physical, social, psychological and spiritual well being (Brown et al. 2017). The assessment is used to identify current and future problems or care needs of the patient and therefore it should be taken seriously by nursing practitioners. Nursing assessment may focus on a broad scope or in some instances it may focus on one body system. Comprehensive and focused assessments are used to obtain information from the patient during admission and regular patient checkups in the ward.

Focused nursing assessment involves gathering information about a specific body system or systems relating to the presenting complaints (Brown et al. 2017). The approach to focused assessment used depends on the nurse practitioner, but as always, the nurse should utilize clinical judgment skills to determine which elements are pertinent to the patient. The most common type of focused assessment in patients is pain assessment. The focused approach is simple and faster because a specific body system is analyzed. A mental status examination in the psychiatric unit is an excellent example of focused nursing assessment.

Complete assessment involves gathering all information relevant to patient hospitalization during admission, and it is completed within 24 hours of admission (Webber and Kelley, 2013). This type of assessment requires preparedness, openness, and assistance from relatives, family members or the significant others of the patient. The assessment has a universal procedure to be followed by nursing practitioners starting with patient history, general appearance, vital signs, physical examination and systemic review. Charting of the two types of assessment is different because it follows an order. Focused assessment is specific and does not follow any order whereas complete assessment is general and follows an order during documentation. The order is meant to guide nurses in priority care setting for the patient and to prevent them from making wrong interventions and evaluations.


Brown, D., Edwards, H., Seaton, L., & Buckley, T. (2017). Lewis’s Medical-Surgical Nursing: Assessment and Management of Clinical Problems. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Weber, J. R., & Kelley, J. H. (2013). Health assessment in nursing. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.