Using the theory of unpleasant symptoms as a guide, what would you look for in an assessment tool for patient symptoms?


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The theory of unpleasant symptoms

            The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms is a broad middle-of-the-road theory that highlights the diverse nature of unpleasant symptoms (Blakeman, 2019). It is critical to emphasize that the concept was established on the belief that symptoms have a number of characteristics. As a result, the concept is sufficiently broad to be used for a wide range of symptoms. This theory can be used to investigate various aspects of the symptom experience in greater depth, such as the factors that influence symptoms and their effects. The theory has been applied to a wide variety of patient demographics and symptoms. The concept is in the middle ground and can be used to describe, explain, and predict clinical symptoms.

The timing, severity, quality, and distress of symptoms are all important considerations. Each of these characteristics can be measured. A variety of factors, including physiological, psychological, and environmental factors, can influence symptom perception. Furthermore, the symptoms themselves may have an impact on performance outcomes such as care-seeking behavior and quality of life. Notably, as the idea has evolved, more emphasis has been placed on the likelihood that symptoms interact with one another, perhaps aggravating one another. This is a noteworthy event.

Similarly, changes in performance can have a reversible effect on symptoms and/or contributing factors. Through feedback, symptoms can influence important variables, and this input can also affect influential variables. This idea exemplifies the symptom experience’s complexities, which include an infinite number of potential causes.

Despite its limited applicability, this theory achieves a rather high level of comprehensiveness because it may be used to explain any symptom or collection of symptoms in any demography and in any medical specialty. The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms provided a theoretical foundation for the creation of models involving symptom experience and its relationship to time. This is understandable, given that the hypothesis makes logical sense.

When assessing the efficacy of a theory, it is important to consider whether the theory provides new insights and makes it easier for the scientist to describe the phenomenon under study in greater depth. The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms achieves these goals because the authors are able to demonstrate the symptoms’ multiplicity of intricacies (Silva-Rodrigues et al., 2019). It is meant to discover preventive activities that can be implemented to treat some of the underlying causes of the symptoms in addition to detecting symptoms. This is done to improve the patient’s quality of life.

What would you look for in an assessment tool for patient symptoms?

A patient assessment is a process of gathering information about a person’s health to identify and characterize patient problems and plan and implement patient-specific solutions (Pufahl et al., 2022). As a result, a clear definition of health is critical since it specifies which assessment data must be collected. Contrary to common opinion, health refers to a state of complete mental, bodily, and social well-being rather than the absence of disease or incapacity. This is the definition provided by the World Health Organization. Despite its breadth, this term emphasizes that the nursing approach to health care is holistic. As a result, health assessments should reflect this mentality by emphasizing the whole person and their surroundings. When completing an evaluation, nurses are required to address a patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual requirements.

The theory of unpleasant symptoms was established in response to clinical data gaps (Gomes et al., 2019). This mid-range hypothesis offers significant potential to guide nursing practice. This possibility exists because of its status as a theory. The theory is important for teaching and scientific inquiry because it identifies elements of symptoms and their correlations, which may be used as a starting point for the development of clinical instruments and research. This is due to the theory’s theoretical foundation being sufficiently explicit, allowing scientists to agree on its application. Furthermore, the theory is important for both teaching and research since it identifies characteristics of symptoms and their relationships.

The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms’ generalizability is founded on the premise that every human being is capable of experiencing the symptoms in a variety of settings, which is theoretically supported by other lines of research (Yang & Kang, 2018). The theory is called brief because it provides a clear and concise explanation of the phenomenon without sacrificing its content, structure, or breadth. There are not only clear formulations but also explicit relational statements that characterize the nature of the core concept and its related concepts.

The unpleasant symptom hypothesis highlights the complexities of symptoms as well as the possibility of potential prevention and management options. The three interrelated categories of influencing elements, according to the theory, have an effect on the occurrence of one or more symptoms as well as the manner in which the symptoms are perceived. The symptom or symptoms, in turn, influence the individual’s performance, which may have a feedback-looping effect on both the symptom experience and the factors driving it. It should be noted that the theory does not account for any explicit interventions. Instead, many of the components and interactions in the theory of unpleasant symptoms are thought to be intervention targets. This is because the theory predicts the arrival of unpleasant symptoms with great accuracy.


Blakeman, J. R. (2019). An integrative review of the theory of unpleasant symptoms. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 75(5), 946-961.

Gomes, G. L. L., Oliveira, F. M. R. L. D., Barbosa, K. T. F., Medeiros, A. C. T. D., Fernandes, M. D. G. M., & Nóbrega, M. M. L. D. (2019). Theory of unpleasant symptoms: Critical analysis. Texto & Contexto-Enfermagem, 28.

Pufahl, L., Zerbato, F., Weber, B., & Weber, I. (2022). BPMN in healthcare: Challenges and best practices. Information Systems, 107, 102013.

Silva-Rodrigues, F. M., Hinds, P. S., & Nascimento, L. C. (2019). The theory of unpleasant symptoms in pediatric oncology nursing: A conceptual and empirical fit? Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 36(6), 436-447.

Yang, I. S., & Kang, Y. (2018). Self-care model based on the theory of unpleasant symptoms in patients with heart failure. Applied Nursing Research, 43, 10-17.



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