Nursing diagnosis Deficient knowledge

Deficient knowledge

Deficient knowledge

Domain 5. Perception-cognition
Class 4. Cognition
Diagnostic Code: 00126
Nanda label: Deficient knowledge
Diagnostic focus: Knowledge

Nursing diagnosis is a systematic process which helps nurses identify patient needs and form a plan of care for those specific needs. A nursing diagnosis is defined by the NANDA International that sets the standard for the approved nursing diagnoses. Identifying the nursing diagnosis of deficient knowledge is the first important step when developing a plan of care for a patient.

Table of Contents

NANDA Nursing Diagnosis Definition

NANDA nursing diagnosis defines “deficient knowledge” as a state which is characterized by lack of cognition on a specific topic or facility needed to meet health or nutritional needs, stages of life, or other situations.

Defining Characteristics

Subjective Data

  • Verbally expresses uncertainty, confusion, or lack of understanding
  • Incorrectly answers questions posed in the assessment
  • Lack of self-confidence when discussing a related topic

Objective Data

  • Demands an excessive amount of explanation before understanding concepts
  • Demonstrates hesitation in decisions
  • Indicates wrong conclusions or responses to questions presented

Related Factors

  • Lack of exposure: Patients lacking exposure to particular topics such as health practices, nutrition, or disease processes can lead to ineffective decision-making or caring confidence.
  • Lack of interest: Patients who show a lack of interest in support, educational opportunities, or lack of seeking knowledge may not obtain necessary information for autonomous decisions.
  • Cultural ideals: Differing culture ideologies and customs can contribute to a lack of knowledge in certain topics and hinder individuals from developing adequate understanding of the subject.

At Risk Population

  • Elderly: Older adults are more at risk due to life experiences and cognitive deteriorations that can limit their understanding of new health material.
  • Pediatrics: Young children are also at a greater risk because they lack the experienced basis for future decision-making and requires immense instruction for internalization of health education materials.
  • Chronically ill: Patients with chronic illness may suffer from impaired cognitive capacities making it difficult to conceptualize necessary details for certain processes or systems.

Associated Conditions

  • Ineffective Health Maintenance: Patient may be lacking the appropriate skills and methods needed to maintain healthy behaviors and functioning.
  • Risk for Injury: The fact that a patient does not understand health material can lead to injury or harsher medical conditions.
  • Powerlessness: Patients feeling powerless due to their lack of knowledge can be a side effect of deficient knowledge which is often referred as helplessness or desperation.

Suggestions of Use

Nurses can use deficient knowledge nursing diagnosis to encourage and provide education to those who need it. This type of diagnosis proves to be especially useful during admission assessments and it is best used when patients encounter new topics, processes, or material.

Suggested alternative diagnostic labels

  • Deficit in Knowledge: Refers to lacking information or knowledge on a particular topic.
  • Readiness for enhanced Knowledge: Refers to potential to gain in knowledge.
  • Knowledge deficit: Refers to inadequate consciousness in a certain knowledge area.

Usage Tips

  • It is important that nurses recognize differences between patient's understandings, perceptions, and apprehensions between different subject matters and react accordingly.
  • Present only essential materials for the patient whilst attempting to evaluate comprehension by prompting them for information demonstrated during discussion.
  • After introducing a new topic, perform tests for understanding and re-elaborate information when needed.

NOC Outcomes

  • Health Knowledge: Knowledge related to health and wellness attained through interaction of health care personnel and the client.
  • Decision Making: Process of choosing among several action alternatives.
  • Learning Ability: Process of acquiring, comprehending, and recalling information.

Evaluation objectives and criteria

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of nursing interventions, nurses must reach a goal before progressing. Objectives associated with deficient knowledge can be analyzed using four criteria: understanding/learning rate, response to reinforcement/instruction, retention of information/incorporation of information in patient's life, and utilization of instructional resource.

NIC Interventions

  • Documentation: Record any observations regarding patient's understanding, performance in tests indicating levels of learning and incorporation of new material.
  • Teaching: Activity: Facilitate patient's learning by applying teaching strategies in an enjoyable way.
  • Health Surveillance: Assess any patient's gaps in knowledge and assess if they face difficultly understanding or have deficits in memory.

Nursing Activities

  • Identify and evaluate patient’s prior knowledge level.
  • Contribute to developing personalized educational plans to fill patients' knowledge gap.
  • Provide health material and explanations according to the patient's learning style and need.
  • Determine the patient's motivation and ability to understand material.
  • Evaluate patient's responses to learning activities and document accordingly.
  • Encourage patient to practice problem-solving and decision-making related to their health condition or needs.


Nursing diagnoses aid nurses in properly assess their patient's needs. Deficient knowledge usually presents itself in the form of confused or wrong answers to questions posed in the assessment. Common factors involved in deficient knowledge include cultural ideals, lack of exposure, or lack of interest. Evaluation for deficient knowledge relies on criteria such as understanding/learning rate and retention of information. Through employing interventions such as teaching Activity and documentation, nurses are able to form effective plans of care to assist patient's facing deficient knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge?
    A: Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge is a state which is characterized by lack of cognition on a specific topic or facility needed to meet health or nutritional needs, stages of life, or other situations.
  • Q: What are the defining characteristics of Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge?
    A: The defining characteristics of Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge can include verbally expressing uncertainty or confusion, incorrectly answering questions posed in the assessment, lack of self-confidence when discussing the related topic, demands for excessive amounts of explanation before understanding concepts, demonstrating hesitation in decisions, and indicating wrong conclusions or responses to questions presented.
  • Q: How are Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge commonly associated with other conditions?
    A: Common conditions associated with Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge include Ineffective Health Maintenance, Risk for Injury, and Powerlessness.
  • Q: What types of populations are particularly at risk for Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge?
    A: Populations that may be at greater risk for Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge include elderly, pediatrics, and chronically ill people.
  • Q: What type of interventions and activities can be implemented to address Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge?
    A: Common interventions and activities used to address Nursing Diagnosis Deficient Knowledge include documentation, teaching Activity, health surveillance, identifying and evaluating patient's prior knowledge level, contributing to developing educational plans, providing health education materials, determining the patient's motivation and abilities, evaluating patient's responses, and encouraging problem-solving and decision-making.

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