Discussion: Building a Health History

Week 1 Discussion: Building a Health History

Communication is the foundation for creating a positive and effective patient-provider relationship. Building rapport with an individual allows for a better understanding of how to tailor one’s communication for effective results. Observing and obtaining information on an individual’s education, developmental status, socioeconomic background, perceptions, and needs aid in delivering quality assessment, planning, education, intervention compliance, and overall outcomes. The following will discuss communication techniques, risk assessment instruments, and targeted questions for the case-study patient: Adolescent Hispanic/Latino boy living in a middle-class suburb.

Communication Techniques

Communication techniques should always be tailored to the individual, this provides a better understanding and positive results. When providing care to an adolescent, it is imperative to analyze the child’s language, to distinguish their reactions and perceptions, and provide consent and empowerment (Peña & Rojas, 2013). The patient in this case study is an adolescent Hispanic/Latino boy living in a middle-class suburb. Adolescents, described by The World Health Organization, is a person “between 10 to 17 years of age” (Organization, n.d., para. 5).  This population is in a stage of critical developmental, emotional, and physical growth, which may differ individually. The sensitivity of some health-related topics may be a barrier in assessing an adolescent; some youth may not feel comfortable discussing them with a guardian in the room. Confidentiality should take precedence, with an understanding of the importance of reporting safety concerns (Barry Solomon, Jane Ball, John Flynn, Joyce Dains, Rosalyn Stewart, 2017).

In a study on nurse-patient communications, the identified four themes for effective communication; approach, manner, interaction techniques, and both verbal and non-verbal communication skills (O’Hagan et al., 2013). The approach and manner should be patient-focused, empathetic, and sensitive; not task-oriented or busy (O’Hagan et al., 2013).  The interaction should include simple non-bias explanations with summarization for clarification (O’Hagan et al., 2013). The verbal and non-verbal communication should be tailored to the individual; patient appropriate language, space management, eye contact, sitting down with the patient and allowing the patient to speak (O’Hagan et al., 2013). These techniques may vary for different individuals based on their communication needs.

In a study evaluating a program focused on communication improvement in an emergency department in Singapore, there was over an 80% decrease in negative feedback from patients after the “I Hear You” program  was implemented (Khoo et al., 2020). The stages to this program are I (Introduce, identity, information gathering),  Hear (Patient’s perspective/patient’s language), and You (Agreement/closure) (Khoo et al., 2020). This technique helps builds an empowered provider-patient relationship by acknowledgment, respect, and participation.

In this patient interview, I would approach the patient first with an introduction and handshake, then the guardian if available. This gives the adolescent patient a sense of individuality and priority. Once history, medications, and concerns are collected; if the patient is comfortable, with their consent I would request the guardian to exit the room for the assessment.

Risk Assessment Instrument

This vulnerable age population, between child and adult, is curious by nature and risky behaviors due to peer pressure, self-esteem, identity, school performance, parent relationships, and susceptibility to media are often adopted (Barry Solomon, Jane Ball, John Flynn, Joyce Dains, Rosalyn Stewart, 2017). Risk assessment screening tools that may be used for an adolescent patient are available to screen for mental health, sexual/physical abuse, substance use, sexuality, and safety (Barry Solomon, Jane Ball, John Flynn, Joyce Dains, Rosalyn Stewart, 2017). PACES (Parents/peers, Accidents/Alcohol/drugs, Cigarettes, Emotional issues, and School/Sexuality), HEEADSSS (Home environment, Education/employment, Eating, Activities/affect, Drugs, Sexuality, Suicide/depression, and Safety from injury/violence) and CRAFFT (Car, Relax, Alone, Forget, Friends, Trouble) are three tools used to evaluate adolescences (Barry Solomon, Jane Ball, John Flynn, Joyce Dains, Rosalyn Stewart, 2017).

Targeted Questions

For the patient: adolescent Hispanic/Latino boy living in a middle-class suburb; I would first determine the individual’s communication preferences such as preferred language, education level, developmental status, and individual’s perception and comfortability. Being from a Hispanic/Latino background, I would build questions around his diet and daily activities; due to the high rate of heart disease and diabetes in this population. I would also focus on his peer circle and activities, due to the developmental stage of adolescence.

Leading targeted questions for this patient would be:

  • Tell me how things are at home.
  • What kind of foods do you like to eat?
  • How has school been this year?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Describe your friends.
  • What do you and your friends like to do?
  • Do you ever use drugs or alcohol?
  • Are you sexually active?



The patient presented in your discussion post is in a vulnerable age group and is a high risk for unsafe behaviors such as drug use, smoking, and alcohol abuse due to peer pressure or simply wanting to fit in, therefore, the advanced practice nurse needs to utilize effective communication techniques to when conducting a health risk assessment for patients in this age group. In this case, the advanced practice nurse will initially need to establish a connection with the patient and gain his trust. Establishing a positive patient relationship depends on the communication built on courtesy, comfort, connection, and confirmation (Ball, Dains, Flynn, Solomon, & Stewart, 2019). Once the patient-provider relationship is formed, patient confidentiality should be explained to the patient before conducting the health history and physical assessment.  As part of obtaining the patient’s health history, health risk assessments must be conducted for health promotion and disease prevention (Wu and Orlando, 2015).  Moreover, it should also be explained that patient safety is of the utmost importance (Ball et al., 2019). The target questions listed in your discussion post were appropriate for this patient and will provide insight into the patient’s health history and current lifestyle to determine an appropriate plan of care.



Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Wu, R. R., & Orlando, L. A. (2015). Implementation of health risk assessments with family health history: Barriers and benefits. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 91(1079), 508. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2014-133195


Discussion: Building a Health History

Effective communication is vital to constructing an accurate and detailed patient history. A patient’s health or illness is influenced by many factors, including age, gender, ethnicity, and environmental setting. As an advanced practice nurse, you must be aware of these factors and tailor your communication techniques accordingly. Doing so will not only help you establish rapport with your patients, but it will also enable you to more effectively gather the information needed to assess your patients’ health risks.

For this Discussion, you will take on the role of a clinician who is building a health history for a particular new patient assigned by your Instructor.

Photo Credit: Sam Edwards / Caiaimage / Getty Images

To prepare:

With the information presented in Chapter 1 of Ball et al. in mind, consider the following:

  • By Day 1 of this week, you will be assigned a new patient profile by your Instructor for this Discussion. Note: Please see the “Course Announcements” section of the classroom for your new patient profile assignment.
  • How would your communication and interview techniques for building a health history differ with each patient?
  • How might you target your questions for building a health history based on the patient’s social determinants of health?
  • What risk assessment instruments would be appropriate to use with each patient, or what questions would you ask each patient to assess his or her health risks?
  • Identify any potential health-related risks based upon the patient’s age, gender, ethnicity, or environmental setting that should be taken into consideration.
  • Select one of the risk assessment instruments presented in Chapter 1 or Chapter 5 of the Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination text, or another tool with which you are familiar, related to your selected patient.
  • Develop at least five targeted questions you would ask your selected patient to assess his or her health risks and begin building a health history.
By Day 3 of Week 1

Post a summary of the interview and a description of the communication techniques you would use with your assigned patient. Explain why you would use these techniques. Identify the risk assessment instrument you selected, and justify why it would be applicable to the selected patient. Provide at least five targeted questions you would ask the patient.

Note: For this Discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the “Post to Discussion Question” link, and then select “Create Thread” to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click on Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and you cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking on Submit!

Discussion Week 1

For this discussion, I elected the case study “76-year-old black male with disabilities living in an urban setting”. In the interview, I will try to assess the level of disabilities the patient is experiencing, impact of disabilities on activities of daily living, support system, available resources, home environment, and psychological well-being. I will use a variety of communication techniques to interact with the patient. I will use simple language so that patient can easily understand me. I will avoid any complex medical terms. I will try to communicate precisely and clearly. I will use open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are regarded as less threatening and respondents can talk freely (Martyn, Munro, and Fava, 2013). I will try to understand non-verbal signs and direct my questions to gather more information. I will listen and empathize with the patient so that he can feel comfortable answering my questions.

I will use the WellSuite Health Risk Assessment Tool (WHRAT). This tool is fully online and easily accessible. It helps to keep patient information in an organized manner which is very helpful while analyzing the responses (WellSuite, 2020).  It helps to identify and predict risk factors for preventable chronic conditions specific to patient populations – and their readiness to change (Abass, Carlsen, and Rautio, 2016). With this information, I will be able to pinpoint and prioritize the best programs and interventions to help reduce costs downstream. This tool considers patient’s race, ethnicity, level of activity, and home environment. The interactive and intuitive design of WHRAT uses three-dimensional branching logic (WellSuite, 2020). This adjusts content with each successive response. That way, patients will only see the questions that are relevant to them. Evidence-based question set can be completed in less than 15 minutes and produces a wealth of information for the patient, healthcare team, and health plan.

The five targeted questions I will ask patient are listed below:

  1. How does your disabilities affect your day to day activities?
  2. Tell me more about your disabilities.
  3. Tell me about other medical issues you are having.
  4. How do you feel about your home environment?
  5. What can you do to improve your situation?



Abass, K., Carlsen, A., & Rautio, A. (2016). New approaches in human health risk assessment. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 75(1). doi:10.3402/ijch.v75.33845

Martyn, K. K., Munro, M. L., & Fava, N. M. (2013). Patient-centered communication and health assessment. Nursing Research, 62(6), 383-393. doi:10.1097/nnr.0000000000000005

WellSuite® IV HRA for the Workforce. (2020). Improve the health of your employee or patient population. Retrieved from https://www.wellsource.com

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 6 of Week 1

Respond to at least two of your colleagues on 2 different days who selected a different patient than you, using one or more of the following approaches:

  • Share additional interview and communication techniques that could be effective with your colleague’s selected patient.
  • Suggest additional health-related risks that might be considered.
  • Validate an idea with your own experience and additional research.


I enjoyed reading your post this week. I’ve never heard of the WellSuite Health Risk Assessment Tool (WHRAT). Like you mentioned this health risk assessment is evidence-based, which is based on the current best evidence provided by medical research (WellSuite IV HRA, 2020). This assessment tool could be challenging for some elderly patients because of the lack of value to them, which would provide inaccurate information. However, with never using this assessment tool, I have very little understanding of its accurateness. Another health risk assessment tool for this patient would be the geriatric screening tool.  This tool focuses on the ability of the patient to take care of their everyday needs. This assessment is an evaluation of the patient’s functional ability, physical abilities, cognition, psychological state, social status, nutritional status, and current medications (Deckx et al., 2015).  Using these health risk assessments allows us as advanced practice nurses to see areas the patient needs help in or where further questions need to be addressed. Using this risk assessment allows us to promote a better quality of life and further management of their disease processes (Wu & Orlando, 2015).



Deckx, L., van den Akker, M., Daniels, L., De Jonge, E. T., Bulens, P., Tjan-Heijnen, V. C. G van Abbema, D. L., & Buntinx, F. (2015). Geriatric screening tools are of limited value to predict decline in functional status and quality of life: results of a cohort study. BMC Family Practice16(1), 1–12. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1186/s12875- 015-0241-x

WellSuite® IV HRA for the Workforce. (2020). Improve the health of your employee or patient population. Retrieved from https://www.wellsource.com


Wu, R. R., & Orlando, L. A. (2015). Implementation of health risk assessments with family health history: Barriers and benefits. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 91(1079), 508.     doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2014-133195

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