Nursing Diagnosis: A Comprehensive Guide and List

Nursing diagnosis is an essential component of nursing practice that helps nurses identify actual or potential health problems and formulate individualized care plans for their patients.

Definition of Nursing Diagnosis

Nursing diagnosis is a clinical judgment made by nurses based on data collected during a patient assessment. It identifies actual or potential health problems and their related factors, including physical, psychological, social, and environmental factors. Nursing diagnosis is used to guide nursing interventions and evaluate patient outcomes.

List of Nursing Diagnosis

Types of Nursing Diagnosis

There are three types of nursing diagnosis:

Actual Nursing Diagnosis

An actual nursing diagnosis describes a current problem that is present in the patient. This type of nursing diagnosis is based on clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory results, and other objective data. An example of an actual nursing diagnosis is “Impaired Gas Exchange related to pneumonia as evidenced by shortness of breath and decreased oxygen saturation.”

Risk Nursing Diagnosis

A risk nursing diagnosis describes a potential problem that the patient is at risk for developing. This type of nursing diagnosis is based on risk factors identified during the patient assessment. An example of a risk nursing diagnosis is “Risk for Falls related to unsteady gait and history of falls.”

Health Promotion Nursing Diagnosis

A health promotion nursing diagnosis describes a patient’s motivation and desire to improve their health and wellbeing. This type of nursing diagnosis is based on patient strengths and resources. An example of a health promotion nursing diagnosis is “Readiness for Enhanced Nutrition related to increased knowledge and motivation to improve dietary habits.”

Process of Nursing Diagnosis

The nursing diagnosis process involves several steps:


The first step in the nursing diagnosis process is to collect data about the patient’s physical, psychological, social, and environmental status. This information can be gathered through observation, physical examination, interviews, and medical records review.

Data Analysis

After collecting data, nurses analyze it to identify patterns, problems, and potential health risks. They use critical thinking and clinical judgment to interpret the data and make informed decisions about nursing diagnoses.


The nursing diagnosis is formulated based on the data analysis. Nurses use standardized nursing language, such as NANDA-I (North American Nursing Diagnosis Association International), to identify the problem and related factors.


After formulating the nursing diagnosis, nurses develop a comprehensive care plan that addresses the patient’s specific needs, goals, and interventions. The plan should be individualized and based on the patient’s preferences and values.


The care plan is implemented through nursing interventions that aim to achieve the goals and improve the patient’s health status. Nurses monitor the patient’s response to interventions and modify the plan as needed.


The final step in the nursing diagnosis process is to evaluate the effectiveness of the care plan and interventions. Nurses assess the patient’s progress towards achieving goals and modify the plan if necessary.

Importance of Nursing Diagnosis

Nursing diagnosis is essential for several reasons:

Individualized Care

Nursing diagnosis helps nurses identify individual patient needs and develop care plans that are tailored to their specific problems, strengths, and preferences.

Efficient Resource Allocation

Nursing diagnosis helps nurses prioritize care interventions and allocate resources effectively. It ensures that resources are used efficiently and effectively to achieve the best patient outcomes.

Improved Patient Outcomes

Nursing diagnosis improves patient outcomes by providing targeted and individualized care that addresses their specific health problems and needs. It helps prevent complications and promotes faster recovery.

Professional Development

Nursing diagnosis is a critical thinking process that requires nurses to analyze data, interpret findings, and make informed decisions. It enhances their clinical judgment skills and promotes their professional development as competent and skilled healthcare providers.

Collaboration with Interdisciplinary Team

Nursing diagnosis facilitates collaboration with the interdisciplinary healthcare team. It enables nurses to communicate effectively with physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers to ensure that the patient receives comprehensive and coordinated care.

Challenges in Nursing Diagnosis

Despite the benefits of nursing diagnosis, several challenges can hinder its effective implementation. These challenges include:

Lack of Knowledge and Skills

Some nurses may lack the knowledge and skills required to perform an accurate and comprehensive patient assessment, analyze data, and formulate a nursing diagnosis. This can compromise the quality of care and patient outcomes.

Time Constraints

Nurses may face time constraints that limit their ability to collect and analyze data thoroughly, formulate a nursing diagnosis, and develop a comprehensive care plan. This can result in incomplete or inadequate care.

Communication Barriers

Effective nursing diagnosis requires communication and collaboration with the patient and the interdisciplinary healthcare team. Communication barriers, such as language differences, cultural differences, and communication disorders, can hinder effective nursing diagnosis.


In conclusion, nursing diagnosis is an essential component of nursing practice that helps nurses identify actual or potential health problems, develop individualized care plans, and promote better patient outcomes. The nursing diagnosis process involves several steps, including assessment, data analysis, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Although nursing diagnosis has many benefits, several challenges, such as lack of knowledge and skills, time constraints, and communication barriers, can hinder its effective implementation.


Who can perform a nursing diagnosis?

  • Nurses who have completed a nursing program and obtained a license to practice can perform a nursing diagnosis.

What is the difference between a medical diagnosis and a nursing diagnosis?

  • A medical diagnosis identifies a disease or condition, while a nursing diagnosis identifies a patient’s response to a disease or condition.

Can a nursing diagnosis change over time?

  • Yes, a nursing diagnosis can change over time as the patient’s health status and needs change.

How can nurses overcome time constraints when performing a nursing diagnosis?

  • Nurses can prioritize data collection and analysis, delegate non-nursing tasks to other healthcare providers, and use technology to streamline the nursing diagnosis process.

Can patients be involved in the nursing diagnosis process?

  • Yes, patients can be involved in the nursing diagnosis process by providing information about their health status, preferences, and goals.