Guide to Nursing Interventions (With Types and Examples)

Updated March 10, 2023

A nurse or patient care professional in blue scrubs looks at a patient in a hospital bed. The arm of another medical professional in blue scrubs is in the foreground.

Nurses are essential medical personnel who perform tasks that affect patients' well-being and recovery. These tasks, known as nursing interventions, include any kind of procedure, treatment or informational interaction that's part of a holistic patient care plan. Learning about the various types of nursing interventions may prepare you for a fulfilling career in this medical profession.

In this article, we define nursing interventions, explain their purposes and types and provide examples of common nursing interventions.

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What are nursing interventions?

Nursing interventions are actions that nurses take and procedures they implement to provide treatment and care to patients. Nursing interventions impact the health and well-being of patients and have a direct effect on their recovery. Examples of nursing interventions include administering treatments, procedures and medications to patients.

Educating patients or adjusting their resting position is also a nursing intervention. Medical experts classify hundreds of nursing actions as interventions, but a nurse needs to be an expert only in the interventions that apply to their specialty, such as senior or palliative care.

What is the Nursing Interventions Classification?

The Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) is the information system that defines all nursing actions necessary to provide direct and indirect care to patients. It's important for all medical professionals besides nurses to be familiar with these classifications because the NIC helps standardize patient care.

Medical professionals use the NIC system in all nursing specialties and medical care settings, including intensive care, hospice, home care, ambulatory care and long-term care to provide treatment interventions independently or collaboratively. Besides standardizing care to ensure best and fair practices are in use for every patient, the NIC offers the following benefits to medical professionals:

  • Helps document and track tests and medications that patients receive

  • Makes communication of care across health care settings easier and faster

  • Measures the effectiveness of nursing interventions

  • Integrates data across health care systems and settings

  • Enables the evaluation of nursing competency

  • Helps measure the productivity of health care establishments

  • Helps to improve the quality of nursing care

  • Provides a detailed curriculum for nursing

Related: What Is NOC for Nurse Professionals? (Definition and Domains)

Nursing intervention categories

Nurses work with physicians and other health care specialists as part of a team to determine the kind of interventions a patient needs. They can also classify treatment interventions by categories that define what each type of interaction with other health care professionals may involve. Here are the nursing intervention categories:

  • Independent: This is a nursing intervention task that requires only one nurse who independently provides the treatment intervention without input or assistance from other staff. An example includes a nurse administering medication to a patient.

  • Dependent: This type of task requires a direct order or permission from a doctor, such as prescribing medication. These interventions typically include more advanced patient care, such as using urinary catheters, formula feeding with a peg tube or providing wound care.

  • Interdependent: This nursing intervention requires a medical team to care for a patient and depends on orders from physicians or advanced nurse practitioners. An example is treating an injury where the doctor prescribes medicine, the nurse administers it and a physical therapist helps the patient with rehabilitation.

Purposes of nursing intervention

The purposes of nursing intervention include:

Reaching health goals

Many nursing interventions help patients reach their wellness and recovery goals. The primary responsibility of nurses is to aid in formulating treatment plans for a patient to improve their health or quality of life.

Examples of nursing interventions that serve this purpose include administering medications, changing bandages and helping patients stay hydrated. Nurses also help patients reach their health goals by counseling them and screening to identify underlying diseases or conditions.

Educating patients

Educating patients, families and their caregivers about the patient's condition and treatment plan is important for a successful recovery. Nurses provide education or instructions on how to support patients at home, manage their condition and implement their treatment plans after discharge.

If patients suffer from chronic illness, nurses educate them and their caregivers to identify warning signs that may require them to seek immediate medical attention.

Related: Patient Education in Nursing: 12 Tips To Improve Instruction

Promoting safety

Nursing interventions promote patient safety by implementing preventive measures, such as ensuring the safety of immobile patients by changing their bed positions to prevent injuries. Nursing interventions that promote patient safety also include monitoring patients' vital signs and critically observing them to detect changes in their symptoms, behavior or mood.

Nurses may create patient safety protocols to help health care professionals deal with specific medical situations, such as how to proceed with care when patients are unconscious. Promoting patient safety is the ultimate goal of nursing interventions, which also includes reducing disease incidence rates.

Related: Standard Precautions in Nursing: Definition and Examples

Offering support

Nursing interventions can also offer emotional support and comfort to patients and their families. For example, nurses can recommend resources for therapy to handle stress. Nurses can also identify less-than-optimal psychosocial states and advocate for patients. They may conduct assessments to determine the mental well-being of patients and their families and help them deal with the conditions they're experiencing.

Types of nursing interventions

There are several nursing interventions, divided into domains or types. Health care professionals define each nursing intervention in the NIC by the type of task they perform. Here are seven types of nursing interventions:

1. Community nursing

Community nursing interventions are nursing practices that affect communities or many people at once. These organized public health initiatives seek to educate or encourage a community or a large group of people to participate in activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.

The aim of community nursing interventions is to promote general health and wellness among masses of people. An example is a health fair set up at a school to teach children and the public about health and well-being issues.

Related: Public Health Nursing vs. Community Health Nursing

2. Family nursing

Family nursing interventions are nursing programs, procedures or instructions that impact an entire family. These enable family members to care for an ill family member or support one another.

An example of a family nursing intervention is educating family members on providing care for patients with chronic conditions. Another example is nurses providing support to new parents to help them care for infants, including teaching them how to bathe, feed and swaddle their baby.

Related: What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner? (With Salary Expectations)

3. Behavioral nursing

Behavioral nursing interventions are tasks that help patients learn methods to change their behavior. Nurses use behavioral analysis to assess a patient when performing this type of intervention.

This may include providing instructions on how to use assistive devices, cope with stress or handle addiction. An example includes providing physical and emotional coping strategies to encourage patients to quit smoking.

Related: 10 Nursing Behavioral Interview Questions (With Examples)

4. Health system nursing

Health system nursing interventions are often interdependent interventions that promote patient safety and involve a team of medical professionals. This type of nursing intervention involves health care professionals collectively working together to create a safe atmosphere for all patients.

An example includes implementing a procedure to reduce infections among patients during their stay in the hospital. This can include interventions such as administering antibiotics, bathing the patient and changing wound dressings.

5. Physiological basic nursing

Physiological basic nursing interventions are simple nursing procedures that assist patients with their physical health and well-being. These interventions are essential for basic patient well-being, such as assisting them in maintaining hygiene.

Physiological basic nursing interventions can also include ensuring that patients exercise and assessing their blood pressure or temperature. Triage nurses in the emergency room need to be experts in physiological nursing interventions because many of these interventions involve assessing a patient and treating physical ailments.

6. Physiological complex nursing

Physiological complex nursing interventions are procedures that usually involve a higher level of skill and comprise smaller tasks. These interventions are necessary to promote or assist a patient with maintaining optimum physical health.

Providing intravenous fluids is an example of a physiological complex nursing intervention because it involves inserting a needle, administering medication and monitoring the patient.

7. Safety nursing

Safety nursing interventions are nursing procedures and tasks that are necessary to assist patients in maintaining their overall health and well-being. These interventions include protecting patients in the hospital or long-term care facility, taking precautions to prevent injury and educating patients and their families on postoperative care measures.

Bed positioning, providing alarms and railings and orienting a patient to their room are all examples of safety nursing interventions. Training patients and caregivers to call for assistance is also a safety nursing intervention.

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Examples of nursing interventions

Here are some examples of nursing interventions:

  • Fall prevention: Nurses educate patients and encourage the use of footwear with grips, assistive mobility equipment and bedside alarms to prevent falls or request for help if the patient falls.

  • Pain control: Nurses typically help patients with pain control by administering medication. Pain management can also include teaching exercises to reduce pain for conditions such as arthritis.

  • Fluid intake: This means helping patients stay hydrated, which is important for their physical health.

  • Mobility therapy: Nurses may teach patients exercises to increase their mobility. Mobility therapy also includes moving patients' limbs, especially in cases of paralysis, to prevent muscles from atrophy.

  • Assistive device therapy: Nurses also help patients with the use of assistive devices, such as a wheelchair or insulin pens. They teach patients how to help themselves at home after a diagnosis.

  • Sleep pattern control: Assisting patients with healthy sleeping habits is important for helping them recover. Sleep pattern control may involve monitoring or education.

  • Cluster care: This involves communicating patient needs to medical staff, especially between shifts. Cluster care enables the health care facility to provide patients with proper care throughout the day.

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