Week 3: Assessment Tools, Diagnostics, Growth, Measurement, and Nutrition in Adults and Children

Many experts predict that genetic testing for disease susceptibility is well on its way to becoming a routine part of clinical care. Yet many of the genetic tests currently being developed are, in the words of the World Health Organization (WHO), of “questionable prognostic value.”

—Leslie Pray, PhD

Obesity remains one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. As a leading cause of United States mortality, morbidity, disability, healthcare utilization and healthcare costs, the high prevalence of obesity continues to strain the United States healthcare system (Obesity Society, 2016).  More than one-third (39.8%) of U.S. adults have obesity (CDC, 2018). The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight (CDC, 2018).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years, with an estimated 13.7 million children and adolescents considered obese (CDC, 2018). When seeking insights about a patient’s overall health and nutritional state, body measurements can provide a valuable perspective. This is particularly important with pediatric patients. Measurements such as height and weight can provide clues to potential health problems and help predict how children will respond to illness. Nurses need to be proficient at using assessment tools, such as the Body Mass Index (BMI) and growth charts, in order to assess nutrition-related health risks and pediatric development while being sensitive to other factors that may affect these measures. Body Mass Index is also used as a predictor for measurement of adult weight and health.

Assessments are constantly being conducted on patients, but they may not provide useful information. In order to ensure that health assessments provide relevant data, nurses should familiarize themselves with test-specific factors that may affect the validity, reliability, and value of these tools.

This week, you will explore various assessment tools and diagnostic tests that are used to gather information about patients’ conditions. You will examine the validity and reliability of these tests and tools. You will also examine assessment techniques, health risks and concerns, and recommendations for care related to patient growth, weight, and nutrition.

Learning Objectives
Students will:

Evaluate validity and reliability of assessment tools and diagnostic tests
Analyze diversity considerations in health assessments
Apply concepts, theories, and principles related to examination techniques, functional assessments, and cultural and diversity awareness in health assessment
Apply assessment skills to collect patient health histories
Learning Resources
Required Readings (click to expand/reduce)

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Chapter 3, “Examination Techniques and Equipment”
This chapter explains the physical examination techniques of inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. This chapter also explores special issues and equipment relevant to the physical exam process.


Chapter 8, “Growth and Nutrition”
In this chapter, the authors explain examinations for growth, gestational age, and pubertal development. The authors also differentiate growth among the organ systems.


Chapter 5, “Recording Information” (Previously read in Week 1)
This chapter provides rationale and methods for maintaining clear and accurate records.