Patient symptoms are the main reasons individuals seek healthcare services. A care provider must have a model or approach to analyzing the symptoms and developing a diagnosis. Several patient assessment tools exist to help a care professional to diagnose patient symptoms. The theory of unpleasant symptoms (TOUS) provides a theoretical framework to analyze patient symptoms and validate patient assessment tools.
TOUS promotes understanding of symptoms. The theory supports the understanding of simultaneously occurring multiple symptoms. TOUS states that symptoms share some linkages, and a care provider can exploit these inherent characteristics to manage and understand symptoms more effectively (Lee et al., 2017). The concepts that underpin TOUS are influencing factors, symptoms, and performance. Influencing factors include situational, physiologic, and psychological factors that impact the symptom’s quality, intensity, occurrence, timing, and distress level. Situational, physiologic, and psychological factors significantly impact symptoms and are also interrelated. Symptoms are considered red flags to threats to an individual’s health. Symptoms signify an alteration in a patient’s normal functioning. The characteristics of symptoms include their quality, intensity, timing, and distress. Performances focus on the impact of the symptoms on the individual’s ability and functioning. It mainly refers to the symptoms’ consequences (Blakeman, 2019). Therefore, these are significant TOUS components that a health professional should be aware of to critique a patient assessment tool.
Using TOUS as a guide to analyzing an assessment tool is essential. I will examine if the patient assessment tool includes the influencing factors. The tool has to include a section for physiological factors such as a change in nutrition or sleep patterns. Moreover, I will check if the tool has a part for psychological factors to analyze the patient’s mental status. I will focus on external factors such as socioeconomic and social support. According to French et al. (2017), all these factors impact patient symptoms and must be available in the patient assessment tool. Additionally, the tool must have a rating of patient symptoms based on quality, intensity, distress, timing, and occurrence. The tool must also contain a part that assesses the impact of the symptoms on the client’s performance and functioning. Therefore, these concepts are linked, and their availability in the patient assessment tool will allow the assessor to compare and draw a conclusion. TOUS provides a theoretical framework to analyze patient symptoms. One should focus on essential concepts: influencing factors, symptoms, and performances. Understanding the definition of these concepts is pivotal in critiquing patient assessment tools. The tool allows nurses to focus on multiple symptoms, which is beneficial in focusing on individual symptoms.
Blakeman, J. R. (2019). An integrative review of the theory of unpleasant symptoms. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 75(5), 946-961. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.13906
French, C. L., Crawford, S. L., Bova, C., & Irwin, R. S. (2017). Change in psychological, physiological, and situational factors in adults after treatment of chronic cough. Chest, 152(3), 547-562. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2017.06.024
Lee, S. E., Vincent, C., & Finnegan, L. (2017). An analysis and evaluation of the theory of unpleasant symptoms. Advances in Nursing Science, 40(1), 16-39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1097/ANS.0000000000000141
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