Physical Assessment of a Child vs. an Adult

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 1
Words: 400
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Bachelor

In the nursing practice, while conducting a physical assessment, it is important to take into consideration the age of the patient. Paying attention to the peculiarities of each age group can make the nursing assessment more effective and professional. There is a number of similarities as well as discrepancies between assessing adult and young patients. While there are common procedures for all ages, such as the assessment of heartbeat rate or palpation, the difference lies within the ability to retrieve the answers from children.

First, nurses should conduct a number of identical physical procedures such as heartbeat rate measurement or palpation while conducting an assessment of both children and adults. Secondly, nurses should make their patients feel comfortable regardless of their age. However, there are several differences between the physical assessment of children and adults. For example, older patients, unlike infants or children, are able to fully answer to the pediatrician’s questions and give any relevant data about their health condition. In the case of infants or toddlers, parents or caregivers usually answer to these questions (Falkner, 2018). Moreover, adults over 18 years old are capable of making decisions about their medical care. In case with underage individuals, such kinds of decisions are made by their parents or caregivers.

Furthermore, giving the assessment instructions, nurses should watch their tone, intonation, and manner of speech. Physical inspection of children requires the use of simple vocabulary to adapt the communication to offer explanations, while pediatricians can use more difficult medical terms with adult patients (Falkner, 2018). Among the strategies that the nurses can use to encourage engagement are the playful tone that can create a bond between the nurse and a child. Thus, it is better for the nurses to encourage communication with children in a friendly and playful manner. Unlike adults, who do not need this special kind of treatment, children will easily go to contact people whom they find joyful and interactive.

Hence, in the nursing profession, there are distinct differences and similarities between the physical assessment of younger and older individuals. While there are common procedures that nurses conduct for everyone, such as palpation or heartbeat rate measurement, there are different approaches to children. For example, when assessing children, they might not give clear answer, which requires extra effort from the professional. Lastly, nurses must engage children in communication via a playful tone and explain everything in simple terms.


Falkner, A. (2018). Age-appropriate approach to pediatric health care assessment. Health Assessment: Foundations for Effective Practice.