6 Cushing’s Disease Nursing Care Plan


Cushing’s Disease (Cushing’s Syndrome; Hypercortisolism; Adrenal Hyperfunction) is a cluster of clinical abnormalities caused by excessive levels of adrenocortical hormones (particularly cortisol) or related corticosteroids and, to a lesser extent, androgens and aldosterone. The disorder is caused by adrenocortical hyperplasia (overgrowth of adrenal cortex) secondary to pituitary overproduction of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), benign or malignant adrenal tumors that release excess glucocorticoids into the blood, prolonged or excessive administration of corticosteroids. The disease results in altered fat distribution, compromised immune system, disturbances in protein metabolism, and fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

Nursing Care Plans

Changes in the physical appearance associated with Cushing’s disease can have a notable influence on client’s body image and emotional well-being. The focus of this care plan is promoting skin integrity, improving body image, decreasing the risk of injury and improving thought processes.

Here are six (6) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis for Cushing’s disease or Cushing’s syndrome:

  1. Risk For Excess Fluid Volume
  2. Risk For Injury
  3. Risk For Infection
  4. Deficient Knowledge
  5. Disturbed Body Image
  6. Disturbed Thought Processes

Disturbed Body Image

Nursing Diagnosis


May be related to

  • Abnormal fat distribution along with edema resulting in moon face, cervicodorsal fat (buffalo hump), trunk obesity.
  • Disturbed protein metabolism resulting in muscle wasting, capillary fragility, and wasting of bone matrix: ecchymosis, osteoporosis, slender limbs, striae (usually purple).
  • Increased production of androgens (giving rise to virilism in women; hirsutism [abnormal growth of hair]).

Possibly evidenced by

  • Change in social behavior (withdrawal, isolation, flamboyancy).
  • Compensatory use of concealing clothing.
  • Refusal to discuss or acknowledge being.
  • Verbal preoccupation with changed body.
  • Verbal identification of feeling about altered body structure.

Desired Outcomes

  • Client will verbalize feelings about the changes in appearance, sexual function and activity level.
  • Client will demonstrate enhanced body image and self-esteem as evidenced by ability to look at, touch, talk about, and care for actual and perceived altered body parts and functions.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Assess the client’s coping mechanism.Previously successful coping skills may be inadequate in the present situation.
Assess for any changes in personal appearance caused by the cortisol excess.These changes may include fullness and rounding of the face (moon face), added fat on the back of neck (buffalo hump), excessive weight gain, red cheeks (plethora), increased body and facial hair and Hyperpigmentation of skin, hair, and mucous membranes occurs as a result of the increased level of melanocyte-stimulating hormones and ACTH.
Assess client’s feelings about their changed appearance and coping mechanism.Negative statements about changes in appearance indicate a disturbed body image. The client may withdraw from social interaction. Depression may occur.
Reassure the client that the physical changes are a result of the elevated hormone levels and most will resolve when those levels return to normalInformation helps the client develop realistic expectations about the changes in the physical appearance. This information may enhance the client’s willingness to participate in recommended treatments.
Encourage the client to verbalize feelings about the body image changesIt is worthwhile to encourage the client to separate feelings about changes in body structure or function from feelings about self-worth. The expression of feelings can enhance the client’s coping strategies.
Promote an atmosphere of acceptance and positive caring.Client asks other people for feedback about their appearance. When the nurse responds to the client in an accepting manner, it supports the client’s adjustment to his or her appearance.
Promote coping methods to deal with the client’s change in appearance (e.g., adequate grooming, flattering clothes).Learning methods to compensate for changes in appearance enhances the client’s self-esteem. Helping clients remember how they managed body image issues in the past may facilitate an adjustment to the current issues.
Refer to local support groups.Being exposed to people with same experiences provide social support. Members of a support group may offer coping strategies that have proven successful.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans related to endocrine system and metabolism disorders:

Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.