Psychosocial Needs
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Psychosocial Needs

Psychosocial assessment is complex and involves many different components. You will need to explore the patient's development, mental health, sexuality, social, cultural and ethnic identity.

Psychosocial assessment is complex and involves many different components. You will need to explore the patient’s development; mental health; sexuality; social, cultural, and ethnic identity; and values and beliefs.


A person’s life stage reflects that person’s stage of development. To understand life stage clearly, you must know the person’s age, gender, occupation, and role in the family. For example, one client may be a 28-year-old woman who has a full-time job, a husband, and two children. This woman’s response to hospitalization will most likely be different from that 68-year-old retired man who lives alone. The problems surrounding adaptation to illness will be different. Try to learn people’s perceptions of how well they meet their own and society’s expectations related to their stage in life.

Mental Health, Love, and Belongingness

Observe from behaviors, and document any statements that indicate how patients feel about themselves and their own life situations. What kind of immediate family or close support does each patient have? Is assistance available at home? Will the patient have visitors? How do the patient and significant others interact? What statements does the patient make regarding feelings about others and their support and about the patient’s relationship with them? Note eye contact, tone of voice, affect, and level of anxiety.


Gather information about sexual difficulties, menstruation, and menopause. Note medications taken or pathophysiology relating to the reproductive system.

It is especially important to gather information about sexuality when the person has had an illness or surgery that affects the reproductive system or gynecologic, breast, or urologic surgery. The patient may share with you that there are problems with sexual performance. Sexuality is a sensitive area for most people, so word your inquiries carefully, and avoid offending the patient or making him or her feel you are prying into matters that do not concern you.

Social, Cultural, and Ethnic Identity

You will need to assess patients with the context or their cultural or ethnic environment and determine how this affects the reaction to illness or hospitalization. Is the patient able to speak and understand English? Will general care customs, dietary restrictions or preferences, or religious practices make a difference in the way you approach the care of this patient? What are the family’s expectations regarding their participation in care? They may e accustomed to visiting in large groups, providing much of the care (especially any intimate aspects) and providing food for the patient. Does the patient have insurance or the ability to pay for care? How will this illness affect the patient’s job status or ability to return to work?

Values and Beliefs

These may be based on an organized religion or on a general philosophical system. Note any religious preference listed on the hospital admission from. Ask the patient whether a religious advisor, pastor, or church should be notified. Observe religious or philosophical reading materials in the patient’s room and conversation related to such matters. Consult your hospital chaplain or written materials about any religious group with which you are not familiar, or ask the patient if there is any way you can help.

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