chapter
Module 3: Assessing
Pages 7

In ‘assessing’ we aim to understand the patient’s situation, perspective and feelings (and their attached meanings), and to place a patient’s symptom and medical problems within the context of her life as a whole. This requires us to take a biopsycho-social perspective. In making a holistic assessment, we need to listen to, and ask the patient directly, about how her symptoms or medical problems are infl uencing and being infl uenced by her life; about stress, emotions, and psychological issues; family, work, and other important life roles and relationships; and about how the illness is affecting her as an individual. For example, a recent life-threatening illness, such as a heart attack, may result in anxiety and stress, interfere with the patient’s ability to work, raise concerns about intimacy and sexual activity, challenge her view of herself as strong and healthy, and raise existential or spiritual questions about life and death.