Nursing Diagnosis Guide and List: All You Need to Know to Master Diagnosing


Know the concepts behind writing NANDA nursing diagnosis in this ultimate tutorial and nursing diagnosis list (now updated for 2021). Learn what is a nursing diagnosis, its history and evolution, the nursing process, the different types, its classifications, and how to write NANDA nursing diagnoses correctly. Included also in this guide are tips on how you can formulate better nursing diagnoses plus guides on how you can use them in creating your nursing care plans (NCP).

What is a Nursing Diagnosis? 

A nursing diagnosis is a clinical judgment concerning human response to health conditions/life processes, or a vulnerability for that response, by an individual, family, group, or community. A nursing diagnosis provides the basis for the selection of nursing interventions to achieve outcomes for which the nurse has accountability. Nursing diagnoses are developed based on data obtained during the nursing assessment and enable the nurse to develop the care plan.

Purposes of Nursing Diagnosis

The purpose of the nursing diagnosis is as follows:

  • Helps identify nursing priorities and help direct nursing interventions based on identified priorities.
  • Helps the formulation of expected outcomes for quality assurance requirements of third-party payers.
  • Nursing diagnoses help identify how a client or group responds to actual or potential health and life processes and knowing their available resources of strengths that can be drawn upon to prevent or resolve problems.
  • Provides a common language and forms a basis for communication and understanding between nursing professionals and the healthcare team.
  • Provides a basis of evaluation to determine if nursing care was beneficial to the client and cost-effective.
  • For nursing students, nursing diagnoses are an effective teaching tool to help sharpen their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Differentiating Nursing Diagnoses, Medical Diagnoses, and Collaborative Problems

The term nursing diagnosis is associated with three different concepts. It may refer to the distinct second step in the nursing process, diagnosis. Also, nursing diagnosis applies to the label when nurses assign meaning to collected data appropriately labeled with NANDA-I-approved nursing diagnosis. For example, during the assessment, the nurse may recognize that the client is feeling anxious, fearful, and finds it difficult to sleep. It is those problems which are labeled with nursing diagnoses: respectively, Anxiety, Fear, and Disturbed Sleep Pattern. Lastly, a nursing diagnosis refers to one of many diagnoses in the classification system established and approved by NANDA. In this context, a nursing diagnosis is based upon the response of the patient to the medical condition. It is called a ‘nursing diagnosis’ because these are matters that hold a distinct and precise action that is associated with what nurses have autonomy to take action about with a specific disease or condition. This includes anything that is a physical, mental, and spiritual type of response. Hence, a nursing diagnosis is focused on care.

Examples of different nursing diagnoses, medical diagnoses, and collaborative problems – to show comparison.
COMPARED. Nursing diagnoses vs medical diagnoses vs collaborative problems

A medical diagnosis, on the other hand, is made by the physician or advance health care practitioner that deals more with the disease, medical condition, or pathological state only a practitioner can treat. Moreover, through experience and know-how, the specific and precise clinical entity that might be the possible cause of the illness will then be undertaken by the doctor, therefore, providing the proper medication that would cure the illness. Examples of medical diagnoses are Diabetes Mellitus, Tuberculosis, Amputation, Hepatitis, and Chronic Kidney DiseaseThe medical diagnosis normally does not change. Nurses are required to follow the physician’s orders and carry out prescribed treatments and therapies.

Collaborative problems are potential problems that nurses manage using both independent and physican-prescribed interventions. These are problems or conditions that require both medical and nursing interventions with the nursing aspect focused on monitoring the client’s condition and preventing development of the potential complication.

As explained above, now it is easier to distinguish nursing diagnosis from that of a medical diagnosis. Nursing diagnosis is directed towards the patient and his physiological and psychological response. A medical diagnosis, on the other hand, is particular with the disease or medical condition. Its center is on the illness.

NANDA International (NANDA-I)

NANDAInternational earlier known as the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) is the principal organization for defining, distribution and integration of standardized nursing diagnoses worldwide.

The term nursing diagnosis was first mentioned in the nursing literature in the 1950s. Two faculty members of Saint Louis University, Kristine Gebbie and Mary Ann Lavin, recognized the need to identify nurses’ role in an ambulatory care setting. In 1973, NANDA’s first national conference was held to formally identify, develop, and classify nursing diagnoses. Subsequent national conferences occurred in 1975, in 1980, and every two years thereafter. In recognition of the participation of nurses in the United States and Canada, in 1982 the group accepted the name North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA).

In 2002, NANDA became NANDA International (NANDA-I) in response to its significant growth in membership outside of North America. The acronym NANDA was retained in the name because of its recognition.

Review, refinement, and research of diagnostic labels continue as new and modified labels are discussed at each biennial conference. Nurses can submit diagnoses to the Diagnostic Review Committee for review. The NANDA-I board of directors give the final approval for incorporation of the diagnosis into the official list of labels. As of 2020, NANDA-I has approved 244 diagnoses for clinical use, testing, and refinement.

History and Evolution of Nursing Diagnosis

In this section, we’ll look at the events that led to the evolution of nursing diagnosis today:

  • The need for nursing to earn its professional status, the increasing use of computers in hospitals for accreditation documentation, and the demand for a standardized language from nurses lead to the development of nursing diagnosis. 
  • Post-World  War II America saw an increase in the number of nurses returning from military service. These nurses were highly skilled in treating medical diagnoses with physicians. Returning to peacetime practice, nurses were faced with renewed domination by physicians and social pressures to return to traditionally defined female roles with reduces status to make room in the workforce for returning male soldiers. With that, nurses felt increased pressure to redefine their unique status and value. 
  • Nursing diagnosis was seen as the approach that could provide the “frame of reference from which nurses could determine what to do and what to expect” in a clinical practice situation. 
  • Nursing diagnoses were also intended to define nursing’s unique boundaries with respect to medical diagnoses. For NANDA, the standardization of nursing language through nursing diagnosis was the first step towards having insurance companies pay nurses directly for their care. 
  • In 1953, Virginia Fry and R. Louise McManus introduced the discipline-specific term “nursing diagnosis” to describe a step necessary in developing a nursing care plan. 
  • In 1972, the New York State Nurse Practice Act identified diagnosing as part of the legal domain of professional nursing. The Act was the first legislative recognition of nursing’s independent role and diagnostic function. 
  • In 1973, the development of nursing diagnosis formally began when two faculty members of the Saint Louis University, Kristine Gebbie and Mary Ann Lavin, perceived a need to identify nurses’ roles in ambulatory care settings. In the same year, the first national conference to identify nursing diagnoses was sponsored by the Saint Louis University School of Nursing and Allied Health Profession in 1973. 
  • Also in 1973, the American Nurses Association’s Standards of Practice included diagnosing as a function of professional nursing. Diagnosing was subsequently incorporated into the component of the nursing process. The nursing process was used to standardize and define the concept of nursing care, hoping that it would help to earn professional status. 
  • In 1980, the American Nurses Association (ANA) Social Policy Statement defined nursing as: “the diagnosis and treatment of human response to actual or potential health problems.” 
  • International recognition of the conferences and the development of nursing diagnosis came with the First Canadian Conference in Toronto (1977) and the International Nursing Conference (1987) in Alberta, Canada. 
  • In 1982, the conference group accepted the name “North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA)” to recognize the participation and contribution of nurses in the United States and Canada. In the same year, the newly formed NANDA used Sr. Callista Roy’s “nine patterns of unitary man” as an organizing principle since the first taxonomy listed nursing diagnosis alphabetically – which was deemed unscientific.  
  • In 1984, NANDA renamed “patterns of unitary man” as “human response patterns” based on the work of Marjorie Gordon. Currently, the taxonomy is now called Taxonomy II. 
  • In 1990 during the 9th conference of NANDA, the group approved an official definition of nursing diagnosis:
    “Nursing diagnosis is a clinical judgment about individual, family, or community responses to actual or potential health problems/life processes. Nursing diagnosis provides the basis for selection of nursing interventions to achieve outcomes for which the nurse is accountable.”
  • In 1997, NANDA changed the name of its official journal from “Nursing Diagnosis” to “Nursing Diagnosis: The International Journal of Nursing Terminologies and Classifications.” 
  • In 2002, NANDA changed its name to NANDA International (NANDA-I) to further reflect the worldwide interest in nursing diagnosis. In the same year, Taxonomy II was released based on the revised version of Gordon’s Functional health patterns. 
  • As of 2018, NANDA-I has approved 244 diagnoses for clinical use, testing, and refinement.

Classification of Nursing Diagnoses (Taxonomy II)

How are nursing diagnoses listed, arranged or classified? In 2002, Taxonomy II was adopted, which was based from the Functional Health Patterns assessment framework of Dr. Mary Joy Gordon. Taxonomy II has three levels: Domains (13), Classes (47), and nursing diagnoses. Nursing diagnoses are no longer grouped by Gordon’s patterns but coded according to seven axes: diagnostic concept, time, unit of care, age, health status, descriptor, and topology. In addition, diagnoses are now listed alphabetically by its concept, not by the first word.

Nursing Diagnosis Taxonomy II
NURSING DIAGNOSIS TAXONOMY II. Taxonomy II for nursing diagnosis contains 13 domains and 47 classes. Image via:
  • Domain 1. Health Promotion
    • Class 1. Health Awareness
    • Class 2. Health Management
  • Domain 2. Nutrition
    • Class 1. Ingestion
    • Class 2. Digestion
    • Class 3. Absorption
    • Class 4. Metabolism
    • Class 5. Hydration
  • Domain 3. Elimination and Exchange
    • Class 1. Urinary function
    • Class 2. Gastrointestinal function
    • Class 3. Integumentary function
    • Class 4. Respiratory function
  • Domain 4. Activity/Rest
    • Class 1. Sleep/Rest
    • Class 2. Activity/Exercise
    • Class 3. Energy balance
    • Class 4. Cardiovascular/Pulmonary responses
    • Class 5. Self-care
  • Domain 5. Perception/Cognition
    • Class 1. Attention
    • Class 2. Orientation
    • Class 3. Sensation/Perception
    • Class 4. Cognition
    • Class 5. Communication
  • Domain 6. Self-Perception
    • Class 1. Self-concept
    • Class 2. Self-esteem
    • Class 3. Body image
  • Domain 7. Role relationship
    • Class 1. Caregiving roles
    • Class 2. Family relationships
    • Class 3. Role performance
  • Domain 8. Sexuality
    • Class 1. Sexual identity
    • Class 2. Sexual function
    • Class 3. Reproduction
  • Domain 9. Coping/stress tolerance
    • Class 1. Post-trauma responses
    • Class 2. Coping responses
    • Class 3. Neurobehavioral stress
  • Domain 10. Life principles
    • Class 1. Values
    • Class 2. Beliefs
    • Class 3. Value/Belief/Action congruence
  • Domain 11. Safety/Protection
    • Class 1. Infection
    • Class 2. Physical injury
    • Class 3. Violence
    • Class 4. Environmental hazards
    • Class 5. Defensive processes
    • Class 6. Thermoregulation
  • Domain 12. Comfort
    • Class 1. Physical comfort
    • Class 2. Environmental comfort
    • Class 3. Social comfort
  • Domain 13. Growth/Development
    • Class 1. Growth
    • Class 2. Development

Nursing Process

The five stages of the nursing process are assessment, diagnosing, planning, implementation, and evaluation. In the diagnostic process, the nurse is required to have critical thinking. Apart from the understanding of nursing diagnoses and their definitions, the nurse promotes awareness of defining characteristics and behaviors of the diagnoses, related factors to the selected nursing diagnoses, and the interventions suited for treating the diagnoses.

The Nursing Process, also known as the "ADPIE"
NURSING PROCESS. Also known as the “ADPIE”


What data is collected? The first step of the nursing process is called assessment. When the nurse first encounters a patient, the former is expected to perform an assessment to identify the patient’s health problems as well as the physiological, psychological, and emotional state. The most common approach to gathering important information is through an interview. Physical examinations, referencing a patient’s health history, obtaining a patient’s family history, and general observation can also be used to collect assessment data.


What is the problem? Once the assessment is completed, the second step of the nursing process is where the nurse will take all the gathered information into consideration and diagnose the patient’s condition and medical needs. Diagnosing involves a nurse making an educated judgment about a potential or actual health problem with a patient. More than one diagnoses are sometimes made for a single patient.


How to manage the problem? When the nurse, any supervising medical staff, and the patient agree on the diagnosis, the nurse will plan a course of treatment that takes into account short- and long-term goals. Each problem is committed to a clear, measurable goal for the expected beneficial outcome. The planning step of the nursing process is discussed in detail in Nursing Care Plans (NCP): Ultimate Guide and Database.


Putting the plan into action. The implementation phase of the nursing process is when the nurse put the treatment plan into effect. This typically begins with the medical staff conducting any needed medical interventions. Interventions should be specific to each patient and focus on achievable outcomes. Actions associated in a nursing care plan include monitoring the patient for signs of change or improvement, directly caring for the patient or conducting important medical tasks, educating and guiding the patient about further health management, and referring or contacting the patient for a follow-up.


Did the plan work? Once all nursing intervention actions have taken place, the team now learns what works and what doesn’t by evaluating what was done beforehand. The possible patient outcomes are generally explained under three terms: the patient’s condition improved, the patient’s condition stabilized, and the patient’s condition worsened. Accordingly, evaluation is the last, but if goals were not sufficed, the nursing process begins again from the first step.

Types of Nursing Diagnoses

The four types of NANDA nursing diagnosis are Actual (Problem-Focused), Risk, Health Promotion, and Syndrome. Here are the four categories of nursing diagnosis provided by the NANDA-I system.

TYPES OF NURSING DIAGNOSES. The four types of nursing diagnosis are Actual (Problem-Focused), Risk, Health Promotion, and Syndrome.
TYPES OF NURSING DIAGNOSES. The four types of nursing diagnosis are Actual (Problem-Focused), Risk, Health Promotion, and Syndrome.

Problem-Focused Nursing Diagnosis

A problem-focused diagnosis (also known as actual diagnosis) is a client problem that is present at the time of the nursing assessment. These diagnoses are based on the presence of associated signs and symptoms. Actual nursing diagnosis should not be viewed as more important than risk diagnoses. There are many instances where a risk diagnosis can be the diagnosis with the highest priority for a patient.

Problem-focused nursing diagnoses have three components: (1) nursing diagnosis, (2) related factors, and (3) defining characteristics. Examples of actual nursing diagnosis are:

  • Ineffective Breathing Pattern related to pain as evidenced by pursed-lip breathing, reports of pain during inhalation, use of accessory muscles to breathe
  • Anxiety related to stress as evidenced by increased tension, apprehension, and expression of concern regarding upcoming surgery
  • Acute Pain related to decreased myocardial flow as evidenced by grimacing, expression of pain, guarding behavior.
  • Impaired Skin Integrity related to pressure over bony prominence as evidenced by pain, bleeding, redness, wound drainage.

Risk Nursing Diagnosis

The second type of nursing diagnosis is called risk nursing diagnosis. These are clinical judgment that a problem does not exist, but the presence of risk factors indicates that a problem is likely to develop unless nurses intervene. There are no etiological factors (related factors) for risk diagnoses. The individual (or group) is more susceptible to develop the problem than others in the same or a similar situation because of risk factors. For example, an elderly client with diabetes and vertigo has difficulty walking refuses to ask for assistance during ambulation may be appropriately diagnosed with Risk for Injury.

Components of a risk nursing diagnosis include: (1) risk diagnostic label, and (2) risk factors. Examples of risk nursing diagnosis are:

Health Promotion Diagnosis

Health promotion diagnosis (also known as wellness diagnosis) is a clinical judgment about motivation and desire to increase well-being. Health promotion diagnosis is concerned in the individual, family, or community transition from a specific level of wellness to a higher level of wellness.


Components of a health promotion diagnosis generally include only the diagnostic label or a one-part-statement. Examples of health promotion diagnosis:

  • Readiness for Enhanced Spiritual Well Being
  • Readiness for Enhanced Family Coping
  • Readiness for Enhanced Parenting

Syndrome Diagnosis

A syndrome diagnosis is a clinical judgment concerning with a cluster of problem or risk nursing diagnoses that are predicted to present because of a certain situation or event.

They, too, are written as a one-part statement requiring only the diagnostic label. Examples of a syndrome nursing diagnosis are:

  • Chronic Pain Syndrome
  • Post-trauma Syndrome
  • Frail Elderly Syndrome

Possible Nursing Diagnosis

A possible nursing diagnosis is not a type of diagnosis as are actual, risk, health promotion, and syndrome. Possible nursing diagnoses are statements describing a suspected problem for which additional data are needed to confirm or rule out the suspected problem. It provides the nurse with the ability to communicate with other nurses that a diagnosis may be present but additional data collection is indicated to rule out or confirm the diagnosis.

Examples include

  • Possible Chronic Low Self-Esteem
  • Possible Social Isolation.

Components of a Nursing Diagnosis

A nursing diagnosis has typically three components: (1) the problem and its definition, (2) the etiology, and (3) the defining characteristics or risk factors (for risk diagnosis).

BUILDING BLOCKS OF A DIAGNOSTIC STATEMENT. Components of an NDx may include: probem, etiology, and defining characteristics.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF A DIAGNOSTIC STATEMENT. Components of an NDx may include: probem, etiology, risk factors, and defining characteristics.

Problem and Definition

The problem statement, or the diagnostic label, describes the client’s health problem or response for which nursing therapy is given as concisely as possible. A diagnostic label usually has two parts: qualifier and focus of the diagnosis. Qualifiers (also called modifiers) are words that have been added to some diagnostic labels to give additional meaning, limit or specify the diagnostic statement. Exempted in this rule are one-word nursing diagnoses (e.g., Anxiety, Fatigue, Nausea) where their qualifier and focus are inherent in the one term.

QualifierFocus of the Diagnosis
DeficientFluid volume
ImbalancedNutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
ImpairedGas Exchange
IneffectiveTissue Perfusion
Risk forInjury


The etiology, or related factors, component of a nursing diagnosis label identifies one or more probable causes of the health problem, are the conditions involved in the development of the problem, gives direction to the required nursing therapy, and enables the nurse to individualize the client’s care. Nursing interventions should be aimed at etiological factors in order to remove the underlying cause of the nursing diagnosis. Etiology is linked with the problem statement with the phrase “related to“.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are used instead of etiological factors for risk nursing diagnosis. Risk factors are forces that puts an individual (or group) at an increased vulnerability to an unhealthy condition. Risk factors are written following the phrase “as evidenced by” in the diagnostic statement.

Defining Characteristics

Defining characteristics are the clusters of signs and symptoms that indicate the presence of a particular diagnostic label. In actual nursing diagnoses, the defining characteristics are the identified signs and symptoms of the client. For risk nursing diagnosis, no signs and symptoms are present therefore the factors that cause the client to be more susceptible to the problem form the etiology of a risk nursing diagnosis. Defining characteristics are written following the phrase “as evidenced by” or “as manifested by” in the diagnostic statement.

Diagnostic Process: How to Diagnose

There are three phases during the diagnostic process: (1) data analysis, (2) identification of the client’s health problems, health risks and strengths, and (3) formulation of diagnostic statements.

Analyzing Data

Analysis of data involves comparing patient data against standards, clustering the cues, and identifying gaps and inconsistencies.

Identifying Health Problems, Risks, and Strengths

In this decision-making step after data analysis, the nurse together with the client identify problems that support tentative actual, risk, and possible diagnoses. It involves determining whether a problem is a nursing diagnosis, medical diagnosis, or a collaborative problem. Also at this stage is wherein the nurse and the client identify the client’s strengths, resources, and abilities to cope.

Formulating Diagnostic Statements

Formulation of diagnostic statement is the last step of the diagnostic process wherein the nurse creates diagnostic statements. The process is detailed below.

How to Write a Nursing Diagnosis?

In writing nursing diagnostic statements, describe the health status of an individual and the factors that have contributed to the status. You do not need to include all types of diagnostic indicators. Writing diagnostic statements vary per type of nursing diagnosis (see below).

WRITING DIAGNOSTIC STATEMENTS. Your guide on how to write different nursing diagnostic statements.
WRITING DIAGNOSTIC STATEMENTS. Your guide on how to write different nursing diagnostic statements.

PES Format

Another way of writing nursing diagnostic statements is by using the PES format which stands for Problem (diagnostic label), Etiology (related factors), and Signs/Symptoms (defining characteristics). Using the PES format, diagnostic statements can be one-part, two-part, or three-part statements.

USING THE PES FORMAT. Writing nursing diagnoses using the PES format.
PES FORMAT. Writing nursing diagnoses using the PES format.

One-Part Nursing Diagnosis Statement

Health promotion nursing diagnoses are usually written as one-part statements because related factors are always the same: motivated to achieve a higher level of wellness though related factors may be used to improve the of the chosen diagnosis. Syndrome diagnoses also have no related factors. Examples of one-part nursing diagnosis statement include:


Two-Part Nursing Diagnosis Statement

Risk and possible nursing diagnoses have two-part statements: the first part is the diagnostic label and the second is the validation for a risk nursing diagnosis or the presence of risk factors. It’s not possible to have a third part for risk or possible diagnoses because signs and symptoms do not exist. Examples of two-part nursing diagnosis statement include:

  • Risk for Infection as evidenced by compromised host defenses
  • Risk for Injury as evidenced by abnormal blood profile
  • Possible Social Isolation related to unknown etiology

Three-part Nursing Diagnosis Statement

An actual or problem-focus nursing diagnosis have three-part statements: diagnostic label, contributing factor (“related to”), and signs and symptoms (“as evidenced by” or “as manifested by”). Three-part nursing diagnosis statement is also called the PES format which includes the Problem, Etiology, and Signs and Symptoms. Examples of three-part nursing diagnosis statement include:

  • Impaired Physical Mobility related to decreased muscle control as evidenced by inability to control lower extremities.
  • Acute Pain related to tissue ischemia as evidenced by statement of “I feel severe pain on my chest!”

Variations on Basic Statement Formats

Variations in writing nursing diagnosis statement formats include the following:

  • Using “secondary to” to divide the etiology into two parts to make the diagnostic statement more descriptive and useful. Following the “secondary to” is often a pathophysiologic or disease process or a medical diagnosis. For example, Risk for Decreased Cardiac Output related to reduced preload secondary to myocardial infarction.
  • Using “complex factors” when there are too many etiologic factors or when they are too complex to state in a brief phrase. For example, Chronic Low Self-Esteem related to complex factors.
  • Using “unknown etiology” when the defining characteristics are present but the nurse does not know the cause or contributing factors. For example, Ineffective Coping related to unknown etiology.
  • Specifying a second part of the general response or NANDA label to make it more precise. For example, Impaired Skin Integrity (Right Anterior Chest) related to disruption of skin surface secondary to burn injury.

Nursing Diagnosis for Care Plans

This section is the list or database of the common NANDA nursing diagnosis examples that you can use to develop your nursing care plans.

You can find the complete list of nursing diagnoses and their definitions at NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses: Definitions & Classification 2018-2020 11th Edition.

References and Sources

References for this Nursing Diagnosis guide and recommended resources to further your reading.

Matt Vera is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009 and is currently working as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs. During his time as a student, he knows how frustrating it is to cram on difficult nursing topics. Finding help online is nearly impossible. His situation drove his passion for helping student nurses by creating content and lectures that are easy to digest. Knowing how valuable nurses are in delivering quality healthcare but limited in number, he wants to educate and inspire nursing students. As a nurse educator since 2010, his goal in Nurseslabs is to simplify the learning process, break down complicated topics, help motivate learners, and look for unique ways of assisting students in mastering core nursing concepts effectively.

67 thoughts on “Nursing Diagnosis Guide and List: All You Need to Know to Master Diagnosing”

    • Thank you for this resource material. This is very simple, concise and easy to understand. This would be of great help both for the students and the teacher.

  1. I want to acknowledge the writer of Understand, Matt Vera for using the initiative in simplifying the nursing notes into simple English that we as upcoming nursing students can understand nursing notes in order to practice them in our clinical. I’ve learned so much from this website and I want to be part of the nurses website so I can gather some more informations. Get me on my email.
    Thanks so much..

    I am Lecturer in college of nursing ,India
    Thank You

    • I am a nurse more than 30 yeras and try to teach my team how to used nursing process but it not success. You make me feel it simple and easy to understand . I will use your concept for my team. Thank you somuch

  3. @joseph auarshie jnr, can you please send me your care plan if you made it already ? I am a nursing student too. Thank you appreciated

  4. Hello Matt,

    I have been a nurse for a very long time so it has been a while since I have actually written a care plan. I am working on one for our EMR at work and had a question that I am hoping you can help me with. When using a qualifier, such as Disturbed, can this word be changed to something like Distressed or Unsettled while still maintaining EBP?

    Thanks, Raena

    • Hi Raena,

      Thanks for that interesting question!

      I don’t think you can use other qualifiers (AKA modifiers) other than those listed and approved on the NANDA-I taxonomy. Using other words for modifiers defeats the purpose of standardization or the taxonomy itself. If you think your diagnostic label is limiting, I recommend adding a related factor (“related to”) and/or an “as evidenced by”. If these components are not included or not possible to be written in your EMR system, assessment and data collected should be shown to verify if the diagnosis is accurate.

      If you’re having difficulty formulating diagnostic labels, check our guides for each diagnosis above or consult the official NANDA-I taxonomy list (Amazon Link)

  5. Thank you for your input. I appreciate you getting back to me so quickly. I will look into the NANDA-I taxonomy for further assistance. Once again, thank you for your time and information. It was very helpful.


  6. Thanks, I look forward to learning more from you and maybe joining you in writing once am done with school. It’s awesome.

  7. Hi I am a bit lost with risk doagnoses. According to the last esition of NANDAI. Risk dx do not have related factors. Instead they are supposed to have evidence of the risk facrors. Thus the label should read. Risk for infection as evidenced by inadequate vaccination habits. Could you please clarify this for me? Thanks!!

    • Sorry madam the risk factors thus the potential problem has the related factors not the sign and symptom because that something has not happed yet so there is no sign and symptoms. Thank you

  8. Thank you for the resourceful information which I was thought in school but almost forgotten until now, brain refresh, thanks

  9. Each time I research about nursing diagnoses, there is something new to learn. This is a very well written piece giving great insights about nursing. More than ever, I have a better understanding of the unique body of nursing knowledge. Bravo to the Matt and entire Nurseslabs team

  10. Hello Matt,
    I am a nursing educator and just was browsing through your CarePlan information on this site. You have done an excellent job on this content! I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I will be encouraging my students to use your articles – they are based on very good resources, they follow NANDA-I, and are clear and comprehensive. Well done!

  11. Formulations of the DX has been hectic but thanks to matt vera has been of great help especally answering medsurge quizes just try to expand more on the second part (related to)of actual diagnosis

  12. I’m practicing nursing diagnosis by using the practice case studies my professor provided but I’m not sure if I’m doing it correctly. Here’s what I’m thinking:
    Etiology: morning bouts of fear
    Signs and symptoms: patient stated waking nervous, light headed, agitated, and having a pounding heart
    Anxiety related to morning bouts of fear as evidenced by patient’s reports of waking light headed, agitated, and having a pounding heart.

    In this case study we know to patient has been experiencing anxiety since childhood and was verbally abused by his father. His anxiety is causing difficulties for him to make decisions and he fears he’ll experience misfortunes whenever going to school. We also know about these bouts he has ever morning, which I thought would be a good primary diagnosis because they almost seem like a panic attack which would be extreme anxiety which is a big deal right? Am I thinking about this the right way or not and if not, what should I be concerned about as most important and how should my diagnosis be worded?

    • The nursing diagnostic statement you made sounds right. For the “as evidenced by” part, I would add the statement of the patient in verbatim since this is a subjective data (place it also under quotation marks) and if possible, do your own assessment and objectively obtain the data.

      I would write it this way:

      Anxiety related to morning bouts of fear as evidenced by increased in heart rate, apprehensiveness, and patient stating “waking lightheaded, agitated, and having a pounding heart”

  13. Thanks so much for this readings, am so interested with this website I hope i could use this for my whole time

  14. Hello Professor Matt Vera

    I am Mai Ba Hai, from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy,faculty of nursing.I found that this content is very useful and helpful to me. I think that this content is really fit to my teaching, so I would like to ask your permission that I can translate this content into my languages (Vietnamese) to teach for my nursing students in Vietnam. I will cite you as author of this document. If you are willing to help in this point I really appreciate about it. I am looking forward to receiving your agreement. Yours sincerely.

  15. Matt Vera, BSN, R.N, First, I want to thank you for your amazing, short and precise note you provided for us.
    But I think I’ve got some trouble understanding about 3 components of Nursing diagnosis.
    This is because there is some variation between defining characteristics among your examples of actual and potential nursing diagnosis.
    Actual nursing diagnosis
    -Ineffective breathing pattern related to decreased lung expansion AS EVIDENCED BY dyspnoea, coughing, and difficulty of breathing.
    Risk diagnosis
    -Risk for ineffective airway clearance AS EVIDENCED BY accumulation_of_secreations_in_the_Lung.
    -Risk for fall AS EVIDENCED BY Muscle_weakness
    As I know before, risk Nursing diagnosis misses Defining characteristics. because, the problem is not happened. but it is to happen.

    So, when I compare defining characteristics among actual and risk diagnosis, there is disagreement.
    Accumulation of secretion in the lung is aetiology for ineffective airway clearance.
    But you provided it as defining characteristics.
    So, please make it clear.

  16. This is an excellent work . I was having lectures just now on nursing diagnosis and care plan and this note helps me a lot


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