Consider performing a health history on someone that may not be able to provide you with answers, such as an infant, child, an elderly person, a developmentally disabled individual, or patients who speak a language you do not know.

What strategies would you employ to obtain a complete health history?

Provide a rationale for why you think these strategies would be effective.

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Obtaining a complete health history from someone who may not be able to provide answers, such as infants, children, the elderly, developmentally disabled individuals, or patients who speak a language that the healthcare provider does not understand, can be a challenging task. However, several strategies can be employed to ensure that a complete health history is obtained.

Firstly, the healthcare provider should gather information from family members or caregivers who are familiar with the patient’s medical history, including previous illnesses, surgeries, medications, and allergies. Family members or caregivers can also provide information on the patient’s current symptoms and behaviors that may be indicative of an underlying medical condition (Perry et al., 2021).

Secondly, observation is a valuable tool in obtaining information about a patient’s health status. The healthcare provider should observe the patient’s appearance, behavior, and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, to gather information about the patient’s current health status. For example, an infant who is not making eye contact or crying excessively may be experiencing discomfort or pain (Perry et al., 2021).

Thirdly, the healthcare provider can use interpreter services to communicate with patients who speak a language that they do not understand. Interpreter services are available in many healthcare settings and can help to ensure that patients receive high-quality care despite language barriers (Joint Commission, 2021).

Fourthly, healthcare providers can use developmentally appropriate communication techniques to obtain a health history from children. This may include using open-ended questions, simplifying medical terminology, and using play or visual aids to help the child communicate (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2018).

In conclusion, obtaining a complete health history from patients who may not be able to provide answers can be challenging, but employing strategies such as gathering information from family members or caregivers, observation, interpreter services, and developmentally appropriate communication techniques can help to ensure that a complete health history is obtained. These strategies can help to ensure that patients receive high-quality care, despite any language or communication barriers or developmental disabilities.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018). Communicating with children and families: From everyday interactions to skill in conveying distressing information. Pediatrics, 141(2), e20174058.

Joint Commission. (2021). Advancing effective communication, cultural competence, and patient-and family-centered care for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community: A field guide.

Perry, A. G., Potter, P. A., Ostendorf, W. (2021). Clinical nursing skills and techniques (10th ed.). Elsevier.

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