The theory of unpleasant symptoms (TUS) has four components that aid in patient diagnosis and assessments by nursing practitioners. These psychological, situational, and physiological factors translate to observable symptoms in intensity, timing, distress, and quality. The theory aims to integrate knowledge regarding infection symptoms to provide a framework for interpretation and analysis to control adverse outcomes such as severe illness, high morbidity, and mortality (Moore, 2022). Notably, symptoms are subjective according to patients’ perceptions, and unique signs signal different diseases.
Fatigue is a common symptom characterizing many diseases and involves an overwhelming sustained sense of physical and mental exhaustion. Patients report persistent tiredness, increased dependency, decreased mental and physical work capacity, and poor concentration. The symptom may be constant pain, perception of change from normal body functioning, stress, anxiety, and fear of deteriorating health conditions (Gomes et al., 2019). Diseases such as heart failure, ovarian cancer, syphilis, and malaria are infections attributed to fatigue in the early stages of development.
Nurses do not depend on single symptoms in making comprehensive care decisions as signs are shared among many diseases. For instance, when a patient reports fatigue, anxiety, and low appetite, the clinician will seek additional signs such as shaking, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Confirming the presence of malaria-associated diseases, such as jaundice and anemia, will also guide the doctor in determining the infection (Gomes et al., 2019). However, the medic should validate their anticipation by conducting appropriate medical tests.
The psychological, situational, and physiological symptoms are integrated into patient assessment and analyzed according to the same interest. In the case of heart failure, physiological factors involve systems, pathologic problems, and energy substrate. These include oedema, shortness of breath, fatigue, and congestive heart failure. The psychologic factors affect mental status and reaction to illness like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and increased dependency. Situational factors relate to the lifestyle and personal experiences of the patient (Moore, 2022). These comprise recent hospitalization, previous chronic heart failure exacerbation, and level of education regarding chronic disease management. This evidence combined informs the nursing practitioner’s decision about treatment and control of the disease.
The unpleasant symptoms of various infections are applied to correcting undesirable health conditions and improving health care services. However, nurses use pleasant symptoms during regular medical visits and treatment services to reinforce desired health behaviours than to correct them. Concisely, these helps detect deviations in health functionality and physical performance. For example, infants who scream when approached by strangers demonstrate a healthy security tactic and should be reinforced. Nevertheless, the approach should be different for primary caregivers with whom the child should have strong emotional connection and strive to stay in their company.
The role of a nurse practitioner is broad and depends on primary evidence obtained from the analysis of unpleasant symptoms. Nurses do deliver not only medical treatment but also psychological therapy, psychospiritual, psychiatric, and disease control and prevention. These emphasize the need for nurses to rely on symptom identification, interpretation, and appropriate application medication process.
Gomes, G. L. L., de Oliveira, F. M. R. L., Barbosa, K. T. F., de Medeiros, A. C. T., Fernandes, M. D. G. M., & da Nóbrega, M. M. L. (2019). Theory of unpleasant symptoms: Critical analysis. Texto e Contexto Enfermagem, 28. https://doi.org/10.1590/1980-265x-tce-2017-0222
Moore, A. K. (2022). The Holistic Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 40(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/08980101211031706
In nursing practice, nurses and healthcare providers are required to measure the symptoms of different patients to provide the appropriate nursing care. The theory of unpleasant symptoms argues that symptoms in patients are multidimensional, and there is a source or cause of the symptoms because of the relationship that is shared between the development of the symptom and interaction with different factors (Lenz, 2018). The theory is comprised of three main components such as the factors that cause or are the source of the symptoms, the nature of the development of symptoms, and the role of performance of the patient to the symptoms. As such, it is required that healthcare providers be involved in focusing on the changes that occur in a patient based on the theory’s components. Assessment tools for patient symptoms are developed from the three components because they are essential in providing insights into the symptoms experienced by different patients. Assessment tools should be able to provide patient symptoms of a given health issue based on international standards of application in diverse populations. Most symptoms in patients are complex, and there is a need to ensure that the tools of patient symptom assessment applied by healthcare providers are able to provide strategies that may be used to ensure the prevention and management of the health issue identified from the symptoms. The patient symptoms assessment tool should therefore be required to meet certain qualities or features to be applied in nursing practice. Nurses are required to select symptom assessment tools that have stronger reliability. The instrument should be able to offer similar results of symptoms for each assessment made on a client. The tools are also required to provide efficiency when applied to a diverse population by giving accurate results during the screening process (Iragorri & Spackman, 2018). In addition, there is a need for the patient symptoms assessment tools to show practicality in terms of being useful when determining strategies to be used in the management of the health issue in a patient.
Iragorri, N., & Spackman, E. (2018). Assessing the value of screening tools: reviewing the challenges and opportunities of cost-effectiveness analysis. Public health reviews, 39(1), 1-27.
Lenz, E. R. (2018). Application of the theory of unpleasant symptoms in practice: A challenge for nursing. Investigación En Enfermería: Imagen Y Desarrollo, 20(1).
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