Objective Data in Nursing: Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Lynee Carter
Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

In nursing, objective data, such as blood pressure and skin color, is measured using the five senses. Explore the definition of objective data in nursing, learn about observing behavior, review how to get objective data, and understand the differences between objective and subjective data through examples. Updated: 10/13/2021

Observing Behavior

How can you tell if a person is angry? Are they yelling? Maybe their hands are balled up in fists, or maybe they're stomping their feet and pacing the floor? If you were to measure their blood pressure, heart rate, and respirations, you might see elevated readings. All of this data combined can provide you with the information that the person in question is not very happy.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Genetic Engineering in Medicine

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Observing Behavior
  • 0:22 Definition of Objective Data
  • 0:44 How to Get Objective Data
  • 1:47 Objective & Subjective…
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Definition of Objective Data

Objective data in nursing is part of the health assessment that involves the collection of information through observations. In the health care environment, the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling and touching are used to gather information about the patient. The patient's behaviors, actions, test results, measurements and the physical examination are also included.

How to Get Objective Data

Objective data is obtained as soon as the nurse sees the patient. This involves reading the patient's body language and noticing specific behaviors. The type of eye contact, body positions and hand gestures a patient makes can be the first information that is collected. Lack of eye contact could mean the patient is shy. A patient complaining of a stomachache may lay in a fetal position. Rubbing the hands together may mean the patient is nervous. However, in many cases, conclusions cannot be made without additional observations.

Health care workers can use specific tools and techniques to gather more forms of objective data. The last time you went to a doctor's check-up, a stethoscope was probably used to take your blood pressure and a thermometer to obtain your body temperature. You may have had tests performed, like an x-ray or blood work, that had results. During the physical examination, the doctor may have touched a specific body part to check for pain by watching your facial expressions. These types of objective data are necessary to obtain to help reveal what is going on with patients.

Objective & Subjective Data Differences

Subjective data is another type of patient data that medical professionals collect. It can be defined as anything patients say about the reason for their doctor's visit. The phrase 'signs and symptoms' is often used to describe a patient's health problems. The signs refer to the objective data and are based on what the nurse sees. The symptoms refer to the subjective data and based on what patients say they feel. Another way to help you remember the difference is to see that 'objective' and 'observes' both begin with the letter 'O' while 'subjective' and 'says' both begin with the letter 'S.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Additional Activities

Writing Prompts on Objective Data in Nursing

Prompt 1

Mr. Jones is a 60-year-old mechanic who has a history of hypertension and chronic heart failure. He has never quit smoking and consumes at least two packs of cigarettes in a day. Four days ago, he had an onset of flu with fever and pharyngitis. Also, he had not taken his anti-hypertensive medications for over a week. Today, he has been admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit with acute heart failure. He told the nurse that he has been coughing for a week accompanied by colds. He also stated that his chest feels like it is running away. From this description of Mr. Jones, what type of data in health assessment will the nurse obtain? Why do you say so?

Prompt 2

Shawn, a 35-year-old office worker, had a continuing case of muscle weakness and walking discomfort. He decided to seek medical attention to determine his illness. Early in the morning, at the hospital, the nurse that looked after him observed that he seemed to avoid exposure from sunlight. This was due to his dermatitis apparent from his dry and reddened skin followed by his constant scratching. From what the nurse saw, what type of data in health assessment will the nurse obtain? Why do you say so?

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account