Deficient Knowledge Nursing Diagnosis and Care Plans

Last updated on June 8th, 2023 at 01:56 pm

Deficient knowledge is defined as the lack of cognitive information or psychomotor ability for the restoration, preservation, and promotion of health. Knowledge plays a vital role in the patient’s recovery and may include 3 domains namely: (1) cognitive domain, (2) affective domain, and (3) psychomotor domain.

The cognitive domain consists of intellectual activities and problem-solving skills, while the affective domain consists of feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. The psychomotor domain, on the other hand, consists of physical skills and procedures.

It is important to note that Deficient Knowledge Nursing Diagnosis and Knowledge Deficit Nursing Diagnosis have the same meaning.

Signs and Symptoms of Deficient Knowledge

The common signs and symptoms of knowledge deficit are:

  • Verbalization of problem
  • Exaggerated behavior as compensation for lack of knowledge
  • Hostile behavior toward healthcare staff
  • Verbalization of erroneous information about the condition or treatment
  • Inaccurate execution of newly learned tasks

Factors that may contribute to the development of deficient knowledge include:

  • Novel health diagnosis or treatment
  • Inadequate learning resources
  • Presence of learning disability
  • Misinformation or misinterpretation
  • Noncompliance to treatment due to insufficient financial resources
  • Emotionally incapable to learn
  • Presence of acute illness or condition

Diagnosis of Deficient Knowledge

Patients might say “I do not need your help”, “I already know this condition before”, or “I have no idea what the doctor is explaining to me” which are perceived as symptoms of deficient knowledge.

Moreover, patients who may seem to ignore the consequences of their condition may appear anxious or overwhelmed, disinterested in asking for more information, avoidant in eye contact with the medical personnel, and grandstanding by interrupting the medical personnel during conversation and telling them that the patient knows better.

Management of Deficient Knowledge

  • Assess patient’s current knowledge about the new diagnosis
  • Determine the patient’s manner of learning
  • Encourage the patient to participate in formulating treatment plans
  • Encourage the patient to ask questions when necessary or when in doubt
  • Facilitate conversations to be a learning-friendly discourse
  • Identify any possible obstacle that can impede the patient’s way of learning
  • If necessary or better, use other learning materials such as writing on paper, a demonstration, or a video
  • Teaching methods should pick up with the patient’s pace on learning
  • Instill a positive reinforcement to help the patient comply with the treatment plan
  • Assess the patient’s receptivity to new learning skills by having a simple and return demonstration related to the treatment plan
  • Providing a resource material to the patient regarding the treatment plan is helpful
  • Inquire the patient for possible feedback to assess the ongoing teaching method
  • Always incorporate the family in discussing the treatment plan as much as possible.

Knowledge Deficit Nursing Diagnosis Examples

Nursing Care Plan for Knowledge Deficit 1


Nursing Diagnosis: Deficient Knowledge related to lack of exposure/recall secondary to fracture as evidenced by inaccurate follow-through of instructions and development of preventable complications

Desired Outcome: The patient will verbalize understanding of the condition, prognosis, and potential complications or the medical condition, and the patient will adequately perform necessary procedures and rationalize reasons for actions.

Nursing Interventions for Knowledge Deficit

Review the pathology, prognosis, and future expectations of the patient.  This provides baseline knowledge from which the patient can use for making informed choices. For instance, internal fixation devices can ultimately affect the bone’s strength, while the intramedullary nails, rods, or plates may be removed once the physician recommended it after a long recovery.

Discuss the patient’s dietary needsIt is usually advised for a fracture patient to have a low-fat diet with meager amounts of protein and rich in calcium to promote healing and general well-being.

Equip the patient with the correct ambulatory reinforcing devices for movement as instructed by the physical therapistVirtually all fractures require casts, splints, or braces during healing, so it is strictly recommended to use them especially if the patient needs to move in order to prevent damage and compromised healing. Moreover, keeping the device/s dust- and contaminant-free reduces the risk of infection at the fractured area.

When on long trips, use a backpack.  When the trip is inevitably arduous and tiresome, the patient is advised to carry a bag or backpack to prevent unnecessary muscle fatigue especially when the patient’s arm has casts.

Discuss the significance of consistent clinical or therapy follow-up appointments to the patient.  Proper bone healing takes a month, or even a year, if managed properly with appointments with physical therapists or physicians depending on the situation. To heal properly, it is important to have the patient cooperate with any responsible clinical personnel in managing fracture.

Nursing Care Plan for Knowledge Deficit 2


Nursing Diagnosis: Deficient Knowledge related to lack of exposure/recall, statement of misconception, or cognitive limitation secondary to surgery as evidenced by inaccurate follow-through of instructions and development of preventable complications

Desired Outcome: The patient will verbalize understanding of the condition, prognosis, and potential complications or the medical condition along with the therapeutic needs, and the patient will adequately perform necessary procedures and rationalize reasons for actions.

Nursing Interventions for Knowledge Deficit

Review the patient’s surgery along with the performance of the procedure and the future expectations.  This provides baseline knowledge from which the patient can use for making informed choices.

Teach the patient or have the patient and/or the relative demonstrate wound dressing and tube care when indicated.  This education promotes competent self-care and gradual independence from the clinician’s care.

Inform the patient about the risks of interaction with the crowd or those with infections, as well as the importance of a clean environment.  Isolating the patient to visitors during recovery can reduce incidence of infections.

Discuss the drug therapy to the patient, including the prescribed OTC drugs and analgesics.  Full and consistent cooperation of the patient in regimen reduces risk of getting adverse reactions from surgery such as bacterial infections or severe pain on the surgical site.

Inform the patient about having specific limited activities.  To speed up the recovery and maximize the healing process, it is advisable that the patient should refrain from moving and let the relative or caregiver act for the patient’s needs.

Review the patient about the importance of having a nutritious diet and adequate fluid intake.  Surgery induces inflammation and prompts for extensive healing, so having a diet full of components promoting healing can speed up the recovery.

Have the patient and/or the caregiver monitor any sign/symptom requiring medical attention.  Complications such as fever, urinary retention, nausea/vomiting, infections, etc., are dangerous so once they are detected, it is imperative to alert the physician responsible for the patient’s care.

Nursing Care Plan for Knowledge Deficit 3


Nursing Diagnosis: Deficient Knowledge related to lack of exposure/recall, new condition or treatment, or unfamiliarity with the disease condition secondary to anemia as evidenced by inaccurate follow-through of instructions and verbalized inaccurate information

Desired Outcome: The patient will verbalize one’s understanding of disease and possible treatment plan.

Nursing Interventions for Knowledge Deficit

Have the patient learn by assessing current knowledge on the diagnosis, disease process, possible aggravating factors, and necessary treatment.  Enhancing the patient’s competence in detecting anemia by assessing one’s current knowledge and perceptions is helpful in planning for individualized teaching. For instance, most people know anemia that is caused by iron deficiency only but unaware of the other types.

Explain the significance of routine diagnostic procedures such as complete blood count (CBC), bone marrow aspiration, and a special consult to the hematologist once an anemia is noticed.  Anemia comes in a lot of types, and a thorough but effective diagnosis is only possible with these procedures depending on the signs or symptoms noted.

Instruct the patient on avoiding risk factors and/or risk behaviors.  Factors such as alcoholism, exposure to chemicals, supplement deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B12, iron, folic acid) and frequent use of certain medications hamper red blood cell production and cause more anemia.

Educate the patient about enriching the diet with foods rich in iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 as a remedy for those with nutritional deficiency anemia.  Food like dark-green leafy vegetables, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and fortified breakfast meals are sufficient to replenish the body with nutrients needed for hematopoiesis.

If needed, encourage the patient to take supplements and/or replacement therapy with folic acid or iron.  Depending on the severity of anemia, the dosages and frequency of taking supplements are variable. Iron supplements are given orally with meals, while the folic acid is taken orally as well with water.

Nursing Care Plan for Knowledge Deficit 4


Nursing Diagnosis: Deficient Knowledge related to lack of exposure/recall, misinterpretation of information, or denial of diagnosis secondary to hypertension as evidenced by inaccurate follow-through of instructions and verbalized inaccurate information

Desired Outcome: The patient will verbalize one’s understanding of disease process and possible treatment plan, as well as the familiarity of the drug adverse effects and possible complications. The patient will also learn to maintain BP within the acceptable range.

Nursing Interventions for Knowledge Deficit

Assess the patient’s current knowledge about hypertension and obstacles to learning.  Presence of misconceptions and denial of having hypertension hampers the patient’s capacity to learn about the disease and its complications, the possible therapeutic efforts to effectively control the condition, and even acknowledging its presence. It would be prudent to educate the patient about the presence of hypertension, as well as giving insights of the possible change in lifestyle.

Teach the patient in identifying modifiable risk factors such as obesity, high-sodium and fat diet, sedentary and stressful lifestyle, smoking, and daily alcohol drinking of more than 2 oz per day.  The mentioned risk factors were proven to worsen hypertension and can cause complications to the cardiovascular, digestive, and urinary systems.

Discuss to the patient the importance of having lifestyle changes and/or quitting on risk behaviors.        Changing into comfortable behaviors can be quite complicated and difficult to attain for those who have adapted into risky behaviors. A combination of support, guidance, and empathy can increase the patient’s success in achieving a complete lifestyle change.

Instruct the patient to perform monitoring of blood pressure (BP) level at home.  The patient’s ability to measure BP at home enhances one’s awareness to hypertension and reinforces adherence to medical regimen.

Emphasize to the patient the very importance of adhering to standard treatments to hypertension and consistent follow-up appointments. Inconsistent and lack of cooperation is one of the causes of the progression of hypertension. Therefore, strict and motivated follow-up appointments followed by faithful adherence to medications are helpful in reducing the impact and complication of hypertension.

Nursing Care Plan for Knowledge Deficit 5


Nursing Diagnosis: Deficient Knowledge related to lack of information regarding the disease process or condition secondary to gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) as evidenced by presence of preventable complications, verbalization of problems, and request for information

Desired Outcome: The patient will have increased knowledge of actions that can reduce reflux, as well as necessary and doable measures to counteract such recurrences at any time.

Nursing Interventions for Knowledge Deficit

Assess the patient for the needed information and one’s capacity to make and execute actions regarding the condition.  This makes up the baseline information for evaluating methods for teaching.

Caloric intake must be reduced with assistance.  Intra-abdominal pressure contributes to GERD, so eating less food decreases intra-abdominal pressure.

Upon eating bland and small amounts of food with water, instruct the patient to remain in upright position 1-2 hours after meal, and avoid eating 2-4 hours before bedtime.  Reflux can be controlled by gravity, and it also decreases less irritation to the lower esophagus that connects to the stomach.

The patient’s diet should be high-protein, low-fat, and not hot, spicy, and gas-forming.  High-fat food increases the time for the food to stay in the stomach, as well as hot, spicy, and gas-forming foods which are irritants to the esophagus so it is best to avoid such foods.

Instruct the patient to refrain from over-stretching, coughing, straining, and other activities that increase esophageal reflux.  Straining the body causes increased intraabdominal pressure, thus it increases reflux of stomach contents.

Instruct the patient to avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeinated drinks.  Ethanol, nicotine, and caffeine promotes acid production, relaxes lower esophageal sphincter, and offers more irritation to the lower esophageal mucosa so these are best to be avoided.

Educate the patient regarding the anti-GERD medications and their potential side effects, and if such symptoms arise, notify the physician immediately.  This equips the patient with knowledge, promotes compliance in treatment, and allows learning for identifying alarming signs or symptoms should there be a need for a change in medications or administration of medicine.

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.  Buy on Amazon

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

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.  Buy on Amazon

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


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The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

This information is intended to be nursing education and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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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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