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Physical Assessment between Children and Adults

Comparison of the Physical Assessment between an Adult and a Child

There are physical and developmental differences between infants, children, adults, and aging adults. The infancy, childhood, adolescence, and elderly stages are often referred to as times of growth and development. Therefore, the assessment in these stages differs in terms of growth.

Traditionally, physical assessment starts with objective and subjective data. Among the adult patients, objective and subjective data is sourced from the questions asked progressively (Green, 2018). Adult patients fill some forms to provide more subjective data. On the other hand, the caregivers or the parents of children or toddlers are the historians in terms of data provision. Depending on the age of a child, the questions differ. The aspect is linked to the fact that all children have different developmental stages that require different assessments at large.

School-aged children are eager learners and always curious. Most of them can express their suffering for a practical assessment (Falkner, 2018). Such children should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding their healthcare. However, physical assessment calls for privacy as both children and adults can understand the value of their sexuality as they grow. A head-to-toe examination is usually among all patients. In other words, the assessment methods, palpitation, inspection, and auscultation are generally performed in the same way among children and adult patients.

When interrogating children, nurses need to speak slowly and using words that are simple and easily understood. For instance, the nurse might use the word touch instead of palpate. Also, toddlers and pre-school-aged children have extreme imaginations and may view machines and equipment as monsters (Falkner, 2018). Before any procedures, the child should be allowed to express their concerns. It is wise to praise and promise rewards to such kids to eliminate the fear they might have at this stage. Nurses should also avoid direct questions that might allow patients to sense any form of insecurity. Adult patients need to be reassured over their sufferings for them to be more engaging. 

Other helpful strategies that help engage patients to include warming tools and hands before touching both children and adult patients. Also, nurses should position themselves at the same level as children to minimize fear. Also, one may use a play or a game to attain the child's attention and cooperation. On the other hand, adult patients require assurance to be more cooperative (Green, 2018).


Falkner, A. (2018). Age-appropriate approach to Pediatric health care assessment. Grand Canyon University (Ed).(2018). Health assessment: Foundations for effective practice. 

Retrieved from

Green, S; Faullner, A. (2018). Adult health assessment. Grand Canyon University (Ed). Health assessment: Foundations for effective practice.

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