Knowledge Deficit & Patient Education Nursing Care Plan and Management

Utilize this comprehensive nursing care plan and management guide to effectively educate patients and provide health teachings. Gain knowledge on the nursing assessment process, evidence-based nursing interventions, goal-setting, and nursing diagnoses specific to addressing knowledge deficit.

Patient education and knowledge deficit

Knowledge deficit refers to a lack of cognitive or psychomotor abilities necessary for health restoration, preservation, or promotion. Nurses play a crucial role in identifying and addressing knowledge deficits through patient education, considering the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. Physicians also contribute to patient education, but nurses have a unique responsibility to provide ongoing education and support. Factors such as age, cognitive abilities, cultural beliefs, and physical limitations must be considered when designing an effective teaching plan to meet individual patient needs.


Identifying the specific causes of a patient’s knowledge deficit is crucial for developing targeted and effective patient education strategies. Here are the common causes of deficiency in knowledge and the need for patient education:

  • Limited access to education. Patients may have limited access to educational resources or face barriers in obtaining reliable information, such as lack of internet access or limited availability of educational materials.
  • Language barriers. Patients who do not speak the same language as their healthcare providers may struggle to understand and comprehend information provided to them.
  • Health literacy. Individuals with low health literacy may have difficulty understanding medical terminology, interpreting healthcare information, and applying it to their own situation.
  • Cognitive impairments. Patients with cognitive impairments, such as dementia or intellectual disabilities, may struggle to retain and process information, leading to a knowledge deficit.
  • Emotional distress. High levels of stress, anxiety, or emotional distress can impair a patient’s ability to concentrate and retain information, hindering their understanding and knowledge acquisition.
  • Cultural beliefs and practices. Cultural beliefs and practices may influence a patient’s perception of illness, treatment options, and healthcare practices, leading to a knowledge deficit if these beliefs differ from evidence-based medical recommendations.
  • Time constraints during healthcare visits. Limited time during healthcare visits may prevent healthcare providers from adequately addressing all patient questions or providing comprehensive education.
  • Lack of patient engagement. Some patients may not actively engage in their healthcare or take responsibility for their own learning, resulting in a knowledge deficit.
  • Information overload. Patients may become overwhelmed by a large amount of complex medical information, making it challenging to absorb and retain knowledge.
  • Miscommunication. Poor communication between healthcare providers and patients, including using complex language, technical jargon, or ineffective teaching methods, can contribute to a knowledge deficit.
  • Prioritization of information. Patients may struggle to identify and prioritize essential information from less relevant or confusing details, leading to gaps in knowledge.
  • Discrepancies in information sources. Patients may encounter conflicting information from various sources, such as the internet, friends, or family, which can contribute to confusion and a knowledge deficit.

Signs of knowledge deficit

The following are common signs of knowledge deficit:

1. Lack of understanding or confusion about the condition or treatment.
When a person lacks understanding or feels confused about their condition or treatment, it can hinder their ability to make informed decisions and participate actively in their healthcare. Addressing this knowledge deficit is essential to promote effective self-care and treatment adherence.

2. Inability to correctly explain or demonstrate self-care techniques or medication administration.
Proper self-care techniques and medication administration are crucial for managing a health condition. If a person is unable to accurately explain or demonstrate these techniques, it suggests a lack of knowledge that may compromise their ability to care for themselves effectively.

3. Limited knowledge about the signs and symptoms of the condition or potential complications.
Having limited knowledge about the signs and symptoms of a condition or potential complications can lead to delayed recognition of worsening symptoms or the need for medical intervention. Educating individuals about these aspects enables early detection and timely management of their health condition.

4. Difficulty in making informed decisions related to health management.
Making informed decisions is vital for individuals to actively participate in their healthcare. A knowledge deficit can hinder their ability to weigh the pros and cons of different options and choose the most suitable approach for their health management.

5. Failure to follow prescribed treatment plans or medication regimens.
Non-adherence to prescribed treatment plans or medication regimens can significantly impact treatment outcomes and overall health. It may result from a lack of understanding about the importance of adherence or the potential consequences of non-compliance.

6. Persistent reliance on inaccurate or outdated information.
Relying on inaccurate or outdated information can lead to inappropriate actions, ineffective self-care, or misconceptions about the condition or treatment. Updating and correcting misinformation is crucial to ensure accurate knowledge and appropriate decision-making.

7. Inability to ask relevant questions or seek appropriate resources for information.
Effective patient education involves active engagement and the ability to seek clarification or additional information. When individuals are unable to ask relevant questions or identify appropriate resources, it suggests a knowledge deficit that hinders their ability to acquire accurate and comprehensive knowledge.

8. Anxiety or frustration related to a lack of knowledge or understanding.
A lack of knowledge or understanding can lead to emotional distress, anxiety, or frustration. Addressing these emotions through education and support can help individuals feel empowered and more confident in managing their health.

9. Poor compliance with recommended lifestyle modifications or preventive measures. Knowledge deficits can contribute to poor compliance with lifestyle modifications and preventive measures. Educating individuals about the rationale and benefits of these changes promotes understanding and enhances their motivation to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.

10. Lack of awareness regarding available support systems or community resources.
Knowledge about available support systems and community resources is essential for individuals to access the necessary assistance, guidance, or additional support they may need. Addressing this knowledge deficit ensures individuals can fully utilize available resources to optimize their health outcomes.

Nursing assessment and rationales

Assessment is required in order to recognize patient’s existing knowledge about the present situation.

1. Identify the learner: the patient, family, significant other, or caregiver.
Some patients especially older adults or the terminally ill view themselves as dependent on the caregiver, therefore will not allow themselves to be part of the educational process.

2. Assess the ability to learn or perform desired health-related care.
Cognitive impairments must be recognized so an appropriate teaching plan can be outlined.

3. Assess the motivation and willingness of the patient to learn.
Learning requires energy. Patients must see a need or purpose for learning. They also have the right to refuse educational services.

4. Determine the priority of learning needs within the overall care plan.
This is to know what needs to be discussed especially if the patient already has a background about the situation. Knowing what to prioritize will help prevent wasting valuable time.

5. Allow the patient to open up about the previous experience and health teaching.
Older patients often share life experiences in each learning session. They learn best when teaching builds on previous knowledge and experience.

6. Observe and note existing misconceptions regarding the topic to be taught.
An assessment provides an important starting point in education. Knowledge serves to correct faulty ideas.

7. Acknowledge racial/ethnic differences at the onset of care.
Acknowledgment of racial/ethnic issues will enhance communication, establish rapport, and promote treatment outcomes.

8. Identify cultural influences on health teaching.
Interventions need to be specific to each patient considering their individual differences and backgrounds.

9. Determine the patient’s self-efficacy to learn and apply new knowledge.
Self-efficacy refers to a person’s confidence in his or her own ability to perform a behavior. A first step in teaching may be to foster increased self-efficacy in the learner’s ability to learn the desired information or skills. Some lifestyle changes.

10. Assess barriers to learning (e.g., perceived change in lifestyle, financial concerns, cultural patterns, lack of acceptance by peers or coworkers).
The patient brings to the learning situation a unique personality, established social interaction patterns, cultural norms and values, and environmental influences.

Nursing interventions and rationales

These nursing interventions are aimed at addressing knowledge deficits to empower patients in making informed decisions, actively engaging in their healthcare, and attaining optimal health outcomes.

Initiating health literacy and promoting patient education

1. Consider the patient’s learning style, especially if the patient has learned and retained new information in the past.
Every individual has his or her learning style, which must be a factor in planning an educational program. Some may prefer written materials over visual materials, while others prefer group sessions over individual instruction. Matching the learner’s preferred style with the educational method will facilitate success in the mastery of knowledge.

2. Render physical comfort for the patient.
Based on Maslow’s theory, basic physiological needs must be addressed before patient education. Ensuring physical comfort allows the patient to concentrate on what is being discussed or demonstrated.

3. Grant a calm and peaceful environment without interruption.
A calm environment allows the patient to concentrate and focus more completely.

4. Provide an atmosphere of respect, openness, trust, and collaboration.
Conveying respect is especially important when providing education to patients with different values and beliefs about health and illness.

5. Include the patient in creating the teaching plan, beginning with establishing objectives and goals for learning at the beginning of the session.
Goal setting allows the learner to know what will be discussed and expected during the session. Adults tend to focus on here-and-now, problem-centered education.

6. Consider what is important to the patient.
Allowing the patient to identify the most significant content to be presented first is the most effective.

7. Involve the patient in writing specific outcomes for the teaching session, such as identifying what is most important to learn from their viewpoint and lifestyle.
Patient involvement improves compliance with health regimens and makes teaching and learning a partnership.

8. Explore reactions and feelings about changes.
Assessment assists the nurse in understanding how the learner may respond to the information and possibly how successful the patient may be with the expected changes.

9. Support self-directed, self-designed learning.
Patients know what difficulties will transpire in their own environments, and they must be encouraged to approach learning activities from their priority needs.

10. Help patients in integrating information into daily life.
This technique aids the learner to make adjustments in daily life that will result in the desired change in behavior.

11. Give adequate time for integration that is in direct conflict with existing values or beliefs.
Information that is in direct conflict with what is already held to be true forces a reevaluation of the old material and is thus integrated more slowly.

12. Provide clear, thorough, and understandable explanations and demonstrations.
Patients are better able to ask questions when they have basic information about what to expect.

13. Give information with the use of media. Use visual aids like diagrams, pictures, videotapes, audiotapes, and interactive Internet websites, such as Nurseslabs.
Different people take in information in different ways.

14. Check the availability of supplies and equipment.
Adequate preparation is especially important when teaching in the home setting.

15. When presenting a material, start with the basics or familiar, simple, and concrete information to less familiar, complex ones.
This method allows the patient to understand new material in relation to familiar material.

16. Focus teaching sessions on a single concept or idea.
Clearly focuses teaching allows the learner to concentrate more completely on the material being discussed.

17. Pace the instruction and keep sessions short.
Learning requires energy, so shorter, well-paced sessions reduce fatigue and allow the patient to absorb more completely.

18. Build on the patient’s literacy skills when teaching.
In patients with low literacy skills, materials should be short and have culturally sensitive illustrations.

19. Identify the patient’s understanding of common medical terminology, such as “empty stomach,” “emesis,” and “palpation.”
Patients are expected to read and understand labels on medicine containers, appointment slips, and informed consent.

20. Use the teach-back technique to determine the patient’s understanding of what was taught:

  • The nurse gives information in a caring manner, using plain language.
  • Ask the patient to explain in his or her own words.
  • Rephrase the information if unable to repeat it accurately.
  • Again ask the patient to teach back the information using his or her own words until the nurse is comfortable that is understood.
  • If the patient still does not understand, consider other strategies.

The teach-back technique consists of specific steps in a repetitive order to evaluate the recipient’s knowledge of the content discussed. Patients who are not able to do this method after multiple cycles are considered cognitively impaired.

21. Provide preadmission self-instruction materials to prepare patients for postoperative exercises.
Providing patients with preadmission information about exercises has been shown to increase positive feelings and the ability to perform prescribed exercises.

22. Encourage questions
Questions facilitate open communication between patients and health care professionals and allow verification of understanding of given information.

23. Provide immediate feedback on performance.
Immediate feedback allows the learner to make corrections rather than practicing the skill wrongly.

24. Allow repetition of the information or skill.
Repeated practice allows patients to gain confidence in their self-care ability.

25. Render positive, constructive reinforcement of learning
A positive approach by the patient will help him or her feel good about learning accomplishments, gain confidence, and maintain self-esteem.

26. Incorporate rewards into the learning process.
Rewards help to make learning fun and exciting.

27. Note the progress of teaching and learning.
Documentation allows additional teaching to be based on what the learner has completed.

28. Help the patient identify community resources for continuing information and support.
Learning occurs through imitation, so persons who are currently involved in lifestyle changes can help the learner anticipate adjustment issues. Community resources can offer financial and educational support.

Enhancing compliance to treatment regimen

Empowering patients to actively participate in their care is crucial in the evolving healthcare landscape. However, challenges arise when patients face complex treatment regimens both in healthcare facilities and at home. Some individuals, particularly those with sensory deficits, cognitive impairments, limited resources, or inadequate support systems, are unable to take an active role in managing their health. Older patients, in particular, are at a higher risk of ineffective therapeutic management due to factors such as depression, life crises, unemployment, substance abuse, and social and emotional difficulties.

1. Assess for related circumstances that may negatively influence resolution following the program.
Awareness of causative factors provides direction for subsequent intervention. This may range from financial constraints to physical limitations.

2. Assess earlier attempts to follow a regimen.
This knowledge presents a great starting point in understanding any complexities in the implementation of the treatment plan.

3. Evaluate the patient’s conviction in his or her ability to perform the desired behavior.
According to the self-efficacy theory, the positive conviction that one can favorably perform a behavior is associated with performance and successful outcomes.

4. Evaluate the patient’s individual thoughts about health problems.
Based on the Health Belief Model, the patient’s perceived susceptibility to and perceived seriousness and the threat of disease influence compliance with the treatment program. Also, factors such as cultural phenomena and heritage can influence how people see their health.

5. Assess the patient’s ability to achieve the desired activity.
The patient’s ability to conduct the activity determines the amount and type of education that needs to be implemented.

6. Assess the patient’s ability to absorb or recognize the desired health-related activity.
Cognitive impairments need to be recognized so a suitable alternative plan can be devised. Once problems are classified, alternative actions can be initiated.

7. Allow patient participation in planning the treatment program.
Patients who participate in their care have a greater chance of obtaining positive results.

8. Tell the patient about the advantages of adhering to the prescribed regimen.
Patients who understand the effectiveness of the suggested treatment to reduce risk or to promote health are more likely to engage in it.

9. Explain the regimen properly and easy to understand by the patient. Suggest long-acting medications and eliminate unnecessary medications.
Patients are more likely to disregard medications if they are to be taken multiple times daily.

10. Coordinate the therapy to the patient’s lifestyle.
This approach promotes compliance. A “one size fits all” is usually ineffective.

11. Avoid unnecessary clinic visits.
The physical requirements of going to an appointment, the financial costs incurred (loss of day’s work, child care), the negative feelings of being “talked down to” by healthcare providers not fluent in the patient’s language, as well as the commonly long waits can cause patients to withdraw themselves from follow-ups.

12. Develop with the patient a method of rewards that follow successful follow-through.
Rewards may consist of verbal recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges (e.g., earlier office appointments, free parking), or telephone calls.

13. Develop a system for the patient to observe his or her own progress.
Self-monitoring is a key component of a successful change in behavior.

14. Explain that side effects or negative side effects of the treatment can be managed or eliminated.
This determines if something needs to be revised.

15. Focus on the behavior that will make the greatest contribution to the therapeutic effect.
Behavior change is never easy. Efforts should be directed to activities known to result in specific benefits.

16. Initiate referral to a support group if the patient lacks a sufficient support system in the following prescribed treatment regimen.
Groups that come together for common support and knowledge can be helpful, especially to patients coping with chronic illness.

17. Involve significant others in explanations and teaching. Encourage their support and assistance in following plans.
Involving significant others promotes support and assistance in strengthening appropriate behaviors and promoting lifestyle modification.

Promoting adherence and patient outcomes

Poor adherence to therapeutic regimen is when a person or caregiver does not adhere to a mutually agreed-upon health plan, leading to ineffective outcomes. Patient education is important for improving compliance, but it does not guarantee it. Factors contributing to non adherence include past history, stressful environments, socioeconomic status, cultural or religious beliefs, lack of support, financial constraints, and emotional distress. Noncompliance is associated with negative clinical outcomes, increased hospitalizations, reduced quality of life, and higher healthcare costs.

1. Examine the actual therapeutic effect with the expected effect.
These data give baseline information on compliance.

2. Request the patient to bring prescription drugs to appointments; count remaining pills.
This approach provides objective evidence of compliance. This evidence is very useful in research protocols.

3. Evaluate serum or urine drug levels.
This data is useful in distinguishing if the patient is not using the recommended treatment and those not responding to a prescribed treatment.

4. Assess the patient’s understanding of his or her current condition and the importance of health care.
Views on maintenance vary for each patient. Some may base it on religious beliefs and refuse medical treatments. Others may consider natural remedies. This approach will provide a basis for planning future care.

5. Assess the patient’s viewpoint and interest in complying with the treatment regimen.
According to the Health Belief Model, a patient’s perceived susceptibility to and perceived seriousness and the threat of disease, along with perceived benefits from adhering to the treatment plan, affect compliance. Some patients may not be able to apprehend the severity of their disease or their ability to manage some of the ongoing symptoms.

6. Assess the factors that the patient thinks interfere with compliance.
Each piece of information is unique to each patient and it allows for individualizing the corrective plan.

7. Evaluate the patient’s insight about the treatment regimen.
Understanding and considering each patient’s worries and misconceptions about the treatment plan help in future interventions.

8. Assess the patient’s religious beliefs and practices that affect health and disease management.
People of other cultures may have different views and approaches to certain illnesses. Many people believe that a disease can be healed through divine intervention or spirituality.

9. Create a plot of the pattern regarding hospitalizations and clinic appointments.
These data provide objective information regarding follow-up but do not necessarily mean that the patient is not complying with other prescribed therapies.

10. Develop a therapeutic relationship between and among the patient and significant others.
This allows the patient to gain the trust of the nurse and will boost confidence in the completion of the treatment.

11. Involve the patient in planning the proper treatment for him or her.
Patients who are included in the planning have a greater stake in achieving a positive outcome.

12. Eliminate disincentives to compliance.
Decreasing waiting time in clinics, recommending lower levels of activity, and suggesting medications with fewer side effects can increase compliance.

13. Provide therapy that is short and simple. Eliminate unnecessary medication.
Compliance increases when therapy is short and easy to understand.

14. Discourage any unnecessary clinic visits.
Physical demands of traveling to an appointment cause patients to avoid upcoming follow-ups.

15. Adjust the therapy to the patient’s lifestyle.
A “one-size fits all” approach is usually ineffective.

16. Explain that side effects can be controlled or eliminated.
Side effects of medications are usually a commonly reported problem.

17. Supervise the patient until compliance improves.
Home health nurses, telephone monitoring, and frequent return visits or appointments can provide increased supervision as needed that can be tapered as appropriate.

18. Create a behavioral contact.
This approach can aid the patient to accept his or her role in the entire treatment regimen.

19. Create with the patient a system of rewards that follow successful compliance.
Rewards provide positive reinforcement for compliant behavior.

20. Educate the patient and the family members on the treatment regimen that the patient will undergo.
This increases awareness about the importance of completing the prescribed treatment. It provides increased compliance with such treatment.

21. Provide specific instructions as indicated.
The information allows the patient to better take control in selecting and implementing required changes in behavior.

22. Explore available community resources.
Churches, social clubs, and community groups can play a dominant role in some cultures.

23. Provide social support through the patient’s family and self-help groups.
Such groups may help the patient in gaining a greater understanding of the benefits of treatment compliance.

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

Disclosure: Included below are affiliate links from Amazon at no additional cost from you. We may earn a small commission from your purchase. For more information, check out our privacy policy.

Ackley and Ladwig’s Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care
We love this book because of its evidence-based approach to nursing interventions. This care plan handbook uses an easy, three-step system to guide you through client assessment, nursing diagnosis, and care planning. Includes step-by-step instructions showing how to implement care and evaluate outcomes, and help you build skills in diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking.

Nursing Care Plans – Nursing Diagnosis & Intervention (10th Edition)
Includes over two hundred care plans that reflect the most recent evidence-based guidelines. New to this edition are ICNP diagnoses, care plans on LGBTQ health issues, and on electrolytes and acid-base balance.

Nurse’s Pocket Guide: Diagnoses, Prioritized Interventions, and Rationales
Quick-reference tool includes all you need to identify the correct diagnoses for efficient patient care planning. The sixteenth edition includes the most recent nursing diagnoses and interventions and an alphabetized listing of nursing diagnoses covering more than 400 disorders.

Nursing Diagnosis Manual: Planning, Individualizing, and Documenting Client Care 
Identify interventions to plan, individualize, and document care for more than 800 diseases and disorders. Only in the Nursing Diagnosis Manual will you find for each diagnosis subjectively and objectively – sample clinical applications, prioritized action/interventions with rationales – a documentation section, and much more!

All-in-One Nursing Care Planning Resource – E-Book: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Maternity, and Psychiatric-Mental Health 
Includes over 100 care plans for medical-surgical, maternity/OB, pediatrics, and psychiatric and mental health. Interprofessional “patient problems” focus familiarizes you with how to speak to patients.

See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Gil Wayne ignites the minds of future nurses through his work as a part-time nurse instructor, writer, and contributor for Nurseslabs, striving to inspire the next generation to reach their full potential and elevate the nursing profession.

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