Nursing diagnosis Ineffective coping

Ineffective coping

Ineffective coping

Domain 9. Coping-stress tolerance
Class 2. Coping responses
Diagnostic Code: 00069
Nanda label: Ineffective coping
Diagnostic focus: Coping

Coping with life's problems, such as illness and death, is a challenge for anyone. Having an action plan in place to cope effectively can make a difference in how well you handle life's situations emotionally and physically. Nursing diagnosis "Ineffective Coping" is used when there is inadequate problem-solving skills or social interaction skills to address day-to-day distress resulting from a medical condition or life event.

Table of Contents

NANDA Nursing Diagnosis Definition

According to the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA), the definition of Ineffective Coping is "The state in which an individual experiences difficulty in dealing with immediate problems or anticipated events".

Defining Characteristics

Subjective defining characteristics of ineffective coping include feelings of helplessness and lack of control in managing stress and anxiety; difficulty with decision making; lack of initiative in problem solving; increased fatigue, isolation and withdrawing from relationships.

Objective aspects of Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping can include decreased ability to concentrate and follow timely instructions; overwhelmed by difficulties; inadequate skills in self-care such as personal hygiene, diet and physical activity.

Related Factors

There are various factors that can lead to ineffective coping. These include:

  • Stressful life circumstances such as illness, death, finances, marriage or job changes can contribute to impaired problem-solving skills.
  • Personality traits and general conflict avoidance behavior can result in a lack of willingness to meet a challenge or take action.
  • Transition periods, transitions experienced in changing roles such as child to adult, student to employed, single to married can be overwhelming.
  • Developmental level can impact how someone may respond to challenging situations, understanding the natural growth stages of life can aide in navigating the process.
  • Environmental factors such as poverty, chronic discord within a family or cultural incongruence.

At Risk Population

Individuals who may be at risk for Ineffective Coping can include:

  • Young children who have limited language, cognitive and interpersonal skills or an inability to express their feelings.
  • Elderly individuals whose physical health has declined and are faced with transitioning to long-term care.
  • People with mental illness due to disorganizing thinking processes and hardship of therapeutic support and routine responsibilities.
  • Substance/Alcohol abusers who attempt to cope with difficult circumstances by seeking relief in substances.
  • Homeless individuals living in an unrelenting cycle of struggle, instability and insecurity.

Suggested Use

Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping is typically specified during patient assessment, focusing on individual thoughts and emotions, as well as patterns of behavior noted during interactions. The nursing diagnosis is also a helpful tool when creating a plan of care for someone in need of improved problem-solving skills and a support system. Nurses may use this diagnosis to determine appropriate interventions and help to build coping skills, self-esteem and encourage autonomy.

Suggested Alternative NANDA Nursing Diagnosis

Additionally, NANDA has alternative diagnostic statements that may apply instead or to serve as a complement to diagnosis Ineffective Coping, such as:

  • Ineffective Self-Health Management – The state in which an individual is unable to initiate and sustain behaviors that promote health.
  • Disturbed Thought Processes – The state in which an individual experiences difficulty associating appropriate thoughts in response to events or experiences.
  • Impaired Social Interaction - The state in which an individual's communication, expressive language or receptive language is not socially accepted or is impaired.
  • Self-Care Deficit –The state in which an individual has an inability to perform or complete activities of daily living independently.

Usage Tips

When addressing an individual’s nursing diagnosis Ineffective Coping, it is important to provide a sense of safety and validation of their feelings. Make sure to use non-judgmental language and ensure privacy as needed. Suggest simple solutions and progress gradually as the individual gains self-awareness and confidence.

NOC Outcomes

NOC outcomes that may be related to Ineffective Coping include:

  • Adaptive Capacity – The ability to make changes or adjustments to alter or improve interactions with others or to accommodate physical and psychological limitations.
  • Coping – A strategy used to manage challenges and crises and to maintain an optimal level of functioning.
  • Health Perception or Health Management - The ability to comprehend overall wellbeing, available treatments and adherence to treatment.
  • Sense of Control/Self-Esteem – The ability to recognize and use personal strengths and to respect limitations.

Evaluation Objectives and Criteria

In order to evaluate an individual’s Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping, specific objectives and criteria should be met prior to discharge. These will include, but are not limited to: improved problem-solving skills, positive support network, increased self-management and self-care, regained sense of control and self-esteem, fewer episodes of isolation and depression, improved assertiveness, greater social interaction and improved communication.

NIC Interventions

Interventions for Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping could include the following:

  • Develop mental healthcare plan – Collaborate to develop a health plan that focuses on goals related to coping mechanisms and resources.
  • Promote problem-solving - Encourage the patient to brainstorm solutions to problem-solving and provide feedback on adaptive strategies.
  • Enhance sense of control - Educate the patient on principles of healing to reinforce sense of control and hope.
  • Demonstrate active listening – Utilize active listening, validating the individual's thoughts and emotions.
  • Facilitate access to services – Assist patient to obtain financial assistance, legal support, health care provider referrals, etc. as needed.

Nursing Activities

The nurse should also work to ensure that necessary conditions are met to promote effective coping. This includes assisting the individual with personal hygiene and providing restorative activities, setting realistic limits for task completion and providing time for relaxation. It is important to involve family members when developing a plan of care and to identify resources to connect the individual to supportive services in the community.


Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping is defined as difficulty managing day-to-day stress and anxiety. Various factors play a role in a person's ability to cope, including environmental, psychological and physical health. Nurses play an important role in providing guidance and education to help individuals become competent and confident in their ability to cope with life's difficulties.


  • What is Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping?
    Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping is when an individual has difficulty dealing with immediate problems or anticipated events.
  • What factors can contribute to Ineffective Coping?
    Factors such as stressful life circumstances, personality traits, transition periods, developmental level and environmental components can contribute to Ineffective Coping.
  • When should Nursing Diagnosis Ineffective Coping be used?
    This diagnosis is typically used during patient assessment when individuals have difficulty managing day-to-day stress and anxiety.
  • What activities should a nurse do to promote effective coping?
    A nurse should assist the individual with personal hygiene and provide restorative activities, set realistic limits for task completion and provide time for relaxation.
  • What types of evaluations are necessary when diagnosing Ineffective Coping?
    Evaluations when diagnosing Ineffective Coping should include improved problem-solving skills, positive support network, increased self-management and self-care, regained sense of control and self-esteem, fewer episodes of isolation and depression, improved assertiveness, greater social interaction and improved communication.

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