Impaired Social Interaction Nursing Diagnosis: Causes and Interventions

Last updated on May 14th, 2024 at 12:06 am

Impaired social interaction is a nursing diagnosis that is commonly seen in patients with mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, and neurological conditions.

This diagnosis is characterized by the inability of an individual to establish and maintain social relationships with others.

Patients with impaired social interaction may have difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication, may not understand social norms, and may struggle with initiating or maintaining conversations.

Patient Care

Patient’s feelings can play a critical role in assessing and intervening with patients who have impaired social interaction. Assessment of a patient’s social interaction skills involves observing their social behavior, communication style, and ability to interact with others.

Nurses can also use standardized tools to assess a patient’s social interaction, such as the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) or the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS).

Interventions for impaired social interaction may include social skills training, communication therapy, and behavior modification techniques. Nurses can work with patients to develop a nursing care plan that addresses their specific needs and goals, including improving their social interaction skills.

By working collaboratively with other healthcare professionals and family members, nurses can help patients with impaired social interaction to improve their quality of life and achieve their full potential.

Impaired Social Interaction: Definition and Diagnosis

Impaired social interaction is a nursing diagnosis that is defined as the inability to establish or maintain meaningful relationships with others due to a disruption in social skills or communication patterns. It is a common problem among individuals with various physical and mental limitations, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorder.

According to the DSM-5, impaired social interaction can be diagnosed when an individual has persistent difficulties in initiating or responding to social interactions across multiple contexts. The diagnosis requires that the individual’s social impairment is not better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay.

Nurses use various assessment tools to diagnose impaired social interaction, including observation, interviews, and standardized tests. They also identify related factors that contribute to the problem, such as cognitive impairments, sensory deficits, social isolation, and cultural barriers.

Impaired social interaction can have significant negative consequences on an individual’s overall well-being, including decreased self-esteem, social isolation, and increased risk of mental health problems. Therefore, nurses play a critical role in identifying and treating this nursing diagnosis.

In conclusion, impaired social interaction is a nursing diagnosis that affects individuals with various mental health conditions. Nurses use various assessment tools to diagnose the problem and identify related factors. It is essential to address this problem to improve the individual’s overall well-being.

Mental Illness.
Impaired Social Interactions.

Assessment of Impaired Social Interaction

Impaired social interaction is a nursing diagnosis that is commonly associated with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. The assessment of impaired social interaction involves a thorough evaluation of the patient’s ability to interact with others, communicate effectively, and establish trust.

Nurses should assess the patient’s verbal communication skills, including their ability to initiate and maintain conversations, use appropriate language and tone, and respond to social cues. Nurses should also evaluate the patient’s nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, body language, and eye contact, to determine if there are any signs of social withdrawal or isolation.

In addition, nurses should assess the patient’s thought process for signs of disturbed thinking, such as delusions or hallucinations, which can contribute to impaired social interaction. They should also evaluate the patient’s anxiety levels, concentration, and ability to cope with stressors, as these factors can affect social interaction.

The assessment of impaired social interaction should also include an evaluation of the patient’s medical history, including any chronic illnesses, substance abuse, or medications that may contribute to social impairment. Risk factors such as genetic and environmental factors should also be considered.

Nursing care plans for impaired social interaction should include interventions to promote social interaction and improve communication skills. These interventions may include group therapy, social skills training, coping mechanisms, and activities that promote social interaction.

The evaluation of outcomes should include an assessment of the patient’s ability to initiate and maintain social interactions, communicate effectively, and establish trust. The patient’s progress should be monitored over time to ensure that the nursing care plan is effective in promoting social interaction and improving communication skills.

In conclusion, the assessment of impaired social interaction is a critical component of nursing care for patients with mental health disorders. By evaluating the patient’s ability to interact with others, communicate effectively, and establish trust, nurses can develop effective nursing care plans to promote social interaction and improve communication skills.

Interventions for Impaired Social Interaction

Nursing Interventions and Rationales

Nursing interventions for impaired social interaction aim to improve the patient’s ability to communicate and socialize with others. These interventions include:

  • Social skills training: This nursing intervention involves teaching the patient and possible the patient’s family on how to interact with others in different social situations. The rationale behind this intervention is to help the patient develop the necessary skills to communicate effectively and build relationships with others.
  • Monitoring: The nurse should monitor the patient’s behavior and communication skills to identify any improvements or setbacks. This can help the nurse adjust the interventions accordingly.
  • Empathy: Nurses should demonstrate empathy towards the patient to build trust and rapport. This can help the patient feel more comfortable and willing to engage in social interactions.
  • Referrals: Nurses should refer the patient to other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists or social workers, if necessary. This can help the patient receive specialized care and support.
  • Socialization: Encouraging the patient to participate in support group, group activities and social events can help improve their social skills, increase self esteem, and build relationships with others.
Impaired Social Interactions.
Encourage Socialization

Medication Treatment and Therapy

Medications and therapy can also be used to treat impaired social interaction. These interventions include:

  • Antipsychotic medication: This type of medication can be used to treat mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, that may cause social withdrawal, delusions, or hallucinations.
  • Counseling: Counseling can help the patient address any underlying issues that may be contributing to their impaired social interaction, such as depression, anxiety, or disturbed thought processes.
  • Group therapy: Group therapy can provide the patient with a supportive environment to practice their social skills and build relationships with others.
  • Dance therapy and board games: These activities can help the patient improve their concentration, anxiety levels, and walking abilities, which can ultimately improve their socialization skills.
  • Referrals: Referring the patient to support groups or self-care programs can provide them with additional resources and support to help them cope with their illness and improve their social interaction.

In conclusion, impaired social interaction can be treated through a combination of nursing interventions, medication, and therapy. Nurses should work with the patient to develop an individualized care plan that addresses their specific needs and goals. By providing the patient with the necessary support and resources, nurses can help improve their social skills and overall quality of life.

Common Nursing Diagnoses for Impaired Social Interaction

Below are samples of impaired social interaction nursing care plans.

  1. Social Isolation: Refers to the individual’s withdrawal or separation from social interactions and relationships, leading to feelings of loneliness, sadness, or disconnection.
  2. Ineffective Coping: Indicates the individual’s inability to adapt or respond appropriately to social situations, resulting in distress, anxiety, or difficulty in establishing and maintaining relationships.
  3. Anxiety: Represents excessive worry, fear, or unease related to social interactions, leading to avoidance behaviors or heightened sensitivity to social cues.
  4. Impaired Verbal Communication: Describes difficulties in expressing oneself verbally, including impaired speech, language barriers, or communication disorders, which can hinder effective social interactions.
  5. Self-Esteem Disturbance: Reflects a negative perception of self-worth or self-image, which can impact the individual’s confidence, assertiveness, and ability to engage in social interactions.
  6. Powerlessness: Denotes a lack of control or influence over one’s social interactions or relationships, often resulting from external factors such as cultural or societal norms, physical limitations, or dependency on others.
  7. Risk for Loneliness: Suggests the vulnerability of an individual to experience feelings of social isolation, disconnection, or lack of companionship, which may arise from factors such as recent life changes, limited social support, or decreased mobility.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Social Isolation:
  • The patient will demonstrate an increased willingness to engage in social activities and initiate interactions with others.
  • The patient will identify and participate in support groups, community programs, or social events to promote social connection.
  • The patient will express a decrease in feelings of loneliness and report an improved sense of belonging.
  1. Ineffective Coping:
  • The patient will develop adaptive coping strategies to manage social stressors effectively.
  • The patient will demonstrate increased assertiveness and problem-solving skills in social situations.
  • The patient will report a reduction in distress and anxiety related to social interactions.
  1. Anxiety:
  • The patient will verbalize a decrease in social anxiety symptoms, such as excessive worry or fear.
  • The patient will participate in exposure therapy or relaxation techniques to manage anxiety during social interactions.
  • The patient will engage in social activities without avoidance behaviors or excessive self-consciousness.
  1. Impaired Verbal Communication:
  • The patient will effectively communicate needs, feelings, and thoughts using appropriate speech or alternative communication methods.
  • The patient will engage in speech therapy or communication training to improve verbal expression.
  • The patient will demonstrate an understanding of non-verbal cues and actively listen during social interactions.
  1. Self-Esteem Disturbance:
  • The patient will verbalize positive self-affirmations and demonstrate an improved self-image.
  • The patient will engage in activities that promote self-confidence and self-expression.
  • The patient will seek and accept social support, recognizing their worth and value in relationships.
  1. Powerlessness:
  • The patient will actively participate in decision-making regarding social interactions and relationships.
  • The patient will identify personal strengths and resources to regain a sense of control in social situations.
  • The patient will establish assertive communication and set boundaries to assert their autonomy.
  1. Risk for Loneliness:
  • The patient will develop a social support system through involvement in community organizations or peer groups.
  • The patient will utilize available technology or resources to maintain social connections.
  • The patient will express satisfaction with the quality and quantity of social interactions, reducing the risk of loneliness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the goals for impaired social interaction nursing diagnosis?

The primary goals of impaired social interaction nursing diagnosis are to identify and address factors that affect a patient’s ability to interact socially with others. This includes identifying social isolation, inadequate social skills, and other barriers to social interaction. The ultimate goal is to improve the patient’s social functioning, enhance their quality of life, and promote their overall well-being.

How can nursing interventions help with impaired social interaction?

Nursing interventions can help with impaired social interaction by addressing the underlying causes of the problem. This may involve providing social support and encouragement, facilitating social activities and interactions, and promoting social skills development. Nurses can also help patients to identify and overcome barriers to social interaction, such as anxiety or shyness.

What are some examples of impaired social interaction?

Examples of impaired social interaction may include difficulty making eye contact, difficulty initiating or maintaining conversations, and avoidance of social situations. Patients may also display signs of social anxiety or shyness, and may have difficulty forming close relationships with others.

What are the objectives for addressing social isolation in elderly patients?

The objectives for addressing social isolation in elderly patients include promoting social interaction and engagement, enhancing their quality of life, and reducing the risk of depression and other mental health disorders. Nurses may work with patients to identify social activities that they enjoy, and may provide support and encouragement to help them participate in these activities.

What are some interventions for addressing social isolation?

Interventions for addressing social isolation may include facilitating social activities and interactions, providing social support and encouragement, and promoting social skills development. Nurses may also work with patients to identify and overcome barriers to social interaction, such as mobility issues or transportation challenges.

What is the nursing diagnosis for cognitive impairment?

The nursing diagnosis for cognitive impairment is often related to the patient’s ability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Nurses may also assess cognitive function using standardized tools, and may provide interventions to promote cognitive functioning and prevent further decline.

Nursing References

Ackley, B. J., Ladwig, G. B., Makic, M. B., Martinez-Kratz, M. R., & Zanotti, M. (2020). Nursing diagnoses handbook: An evidence-based guide to planning care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2017). Nursing care plans: Diagnoses, interventions, & outcomes. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Ignatavicius, D. D., Workman, M. L., Rebar, C. R., & Heimgartner, N. M. (2018). Medical-surgical nursing: Concepts for interprofessional collaborative care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Silvestri, L. A. (2020). Saunders comprehensive review for the NCLEX-RN examination. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Best Nursing Books and Resources

These are the nursing books and resources that we recommend. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  Included below are affiliate links from Amazon at no additional cost from you. We may earn a small commission from your purchase. Please see our Privacy Policy

The Nursing Diagnosis Handbook E-Book: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care

This is an excellent reference for nurses and nursing students. While it is a great resource for writing nursing care plans and nursing diagnoses, it also helps guide the nurse to match the nursing diagnosis to the patient assessment and diagnosis.

This handbook has been updated with NANDA-I approved Nursing Diagnoses that incorporates NOC and NIC taxonomies and evidenced based nursing interventions and much more.

NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses: Definitions & Classification, 2021-2023

All introductory chapters in this updated version of a ground-breaking text have been completely rewritten to give nurses the knowledge they require to appreciate assessment, its relationship to diagnosis and clinical reasoning, and the goal and use of taxonomic organization at the bedside.

Nursing Care Plans: Nursing Diagnosis and Intervention

It contains more than 200 care plans that adhere to the newest evidence-based recommendations.

Additionally, it distinguishes between nursing and collaborative approaches and highlights QSEN competencies.


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Anna Curran. RN, BSN, PHN

Anna Curran. RN-BC, BSN, PHN, CMSRN I am a Critical Care ER nurse. I have been in this field for over 30 years. I also began teaching BSN and LVN students and found that by writing additional study guides helped their knowledge base, especially when it was time to take the NCLEX examinations.

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