Health Assessments in Primary Care: A How-to Guide

Appendix 10: Health Assessment Information for Patients

The Colorado Research Network's Patient Advisory Council created this definition of health assessments for patients.

What is a health assessment?

A health assessment is a set of questions, answered by patients, that asks about personal behaviors, risks, life-changing events, health goals and priorities, and overall health.

Health assessments are usually structured screening and assessment tools used in primary care practices to help the health care team and patient develop a plan of care. Health assessment information can also help the health care team understand the needs of its overall population of patients. Health assessments can vary in length and scope. They can be completed during office visits or between office visits, either on paper or computers. Health assessment questions may be asked about patients of all ages, including children and adolescents.

Some common health assessment questions ask about:

  • Tobacco use.
  • Stress.
  • Healthy eating.
  • Physical activity.
  • Sexual practices.
  • Sedentary behaviors such as sitting and watching TV or playing computer games.
  • Alcohol usage.
  • Addictive behaviors such as gambling or drug use.
  • Violence, bullying or physical abuse.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Emotional and social support.
  • Safety issues such as wearing a seat belt while driving.
  • Overall health or well being.

CaReNet Patient Advisory Council © 2012 – reprinted with permission.

Agenda-setting with patients

  • The "Establishing Focus Protocol" helps physicians set an agenda at the beginning of the visit with input from the patient. The protocol can increase patient satisfaction without increasing the length of visits. More information is in the Family Practice Management article, Have You Really Addressed Your Patient's Concerns?8

Goal-setting with patients

Health literacy for better patient communication

Page last reviewed September 2013
Internet Citation: Health Assessments in Primary Care: A How-to Guide: Appendix 10: Health Assessment Information for Patients. September 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/prevention-chronic-care/improve/system/health-assessments/health-assessment-ap10.html