Disturbed Body Image Nursing Diagnosis & Care Plan

A person suffers from disturbed body image when one is confused about the mental image of their own physical self. Some signs that a patient may be experiencing this is when s/he refuses to look at or touch their body, verbally expresses negative feelings about their body, experiences a change in social involvement, expresses fear of reaction by others, focuses on their past appearance, past functions or past strength, or expresses depersonalization of their body part(s) by using impersonal pronouns. Individuals may be more at risk of this when going through developmental changes.

Expected Outcomes

  • Patient will verbalize a realistic self-image
  • Patient will demonstrate an acceptance of their self instead of an idealized image
  • Patient will be able to recognize health-destructive behaviors and demonstrate a willingness to follow a treatment plan that will promote overall health
  • Patient will be able to describe, touch, and/or observe the affected body part
  • Patient will be able to demonstrate social involvement

Nursing Assessment for Disturbed Body Image

1. Assess the patient’s current view of one’s body
This allows the nurse to determine a baseline and is able to gauge if the patient’s current self-image is realistic.

2. Assess the patient’s basic sense of self-worth
This allows the nurse insight into how the patient currently views himself/herself and will help in making an individualized treatment plan.

3. Assess for signs/symptoms of social withdrawal
Patients with disturbed body image may begin to limit their social interactions and seclude themselves from others.

4. Assess the patient’s current coping patterns
This will allow the nurse to individualize the patient’s plan of care and ensure proper coping patterns are being utilized to improve the patient’s image of self.

5. Assess the patient’s relationship history and possibility of any abuse
History of relationship or sexual abuse can result in a disturbed body image. The nurse should be aware of this and if present for the patient ensure the appropriate resources are being utilized.

6. Assess the patient’s current support system
Having a network and support system will greatly help in the patient’s recovery process.

Nursing Interventions for Disturbed Body Image

1. Encourage open communication with patient
Providing open communication and an environment that is free from judgement will allow the patient to feel more comfortable and will increase the patient’s sense of control and willingness to engage in activities with the nurse.

2. Educate the patient on healthy coping patterns
Patients with disturbed body image may have unhealthy coping patterns. Educating the patient on healthy coping patterns will allow the patient more control and independence in their daily life.

3. If weight loss or gain is needed create a weight graph
This will allow the patient a visual in how s/he is progressing towards her/his goal.

4. Identify and encourage the patient to participate in community support groups
Community support groups can help motivate patients and decrease their loneliness and isolation.

5. Encourage a regular exercise routine for patient
Regular exercise can improve the patient’s ability to function and improve mood and mental state.

6. Provide appropriate assistive devices
If assistive devices are needed for patient ensure these are available to guide the patient towards becoming more independent.


References and Sources

  1. Ackley, B.J., Ladwig, G.B., Flynn Makic M.B., Martinez-Kratz, M., & Zanotti, M. (2019). Nursing diagnosis handbook: An evidence-based guide to planning care (12th edition). Mosby.
  2. Doenges, M.E., Moorhouse, M.F., & Murr, A.C. (2019). Nursing care plans: Guidelines for individualizing client care across the life span (10th edition). F.A. Davis Company.
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Tabitha Cumpian, BSN, MS, RN

Tabitha Cumpian is a registered nurse with a passion for education. She completed her BSN at Edgewood College Nursing School and her MSN with an emphasis in Nursing Education at Herzing University. She has a vast clinical background from years of traveling the United States providing nursing care. The majority of her time has been spent in cardiovascular care. She loves educating others in her field, as well as, patients and their family members through healthcare writing.

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