Altered level of consciousness: Validity of a nursing diagnosis

Authors

  • Dr. Joan S. Grant,

    Corresponding author
    • School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, UAB Station, Birmingham, AL 35294
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    • Joan S. Grant, DSN, RN, CS, is an assistant professor and Marguerite Kinney, DNSc, RN, FAAN, is a professor in the School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

  • Marguerite Kinney


Abstract

The purpose of this three-phase study was to examine the validity of the nursing diagnosis altered level of consciousness (ALC). The conceptual framework was diagnostic reasoning. In Phase I, 26 content experts certified in neuroscience nursing completed four rounds of a Delphi survey to identify defining characteristics and operational definitions for the nursing diagnosis. The diagnosis was divided into ALC: arousal and ALC: content. In Phase II, 30 staff nurses from two neuroscience intensive care units (NICUs) used the magnitude estimation scaling technique in judging the importance and frequency of occurrence of defining characteristics chosen in Phase I. In Phase III, 60 patients in two NICUs were assessed for frequency of occurrence of the defining characteristics for ALC: arousal and ALC: content. In Phase I, there was ≥70% agreement on the appropriateness and clarity of 28 and 24 defining characteristics and operational definitions for ALC: arousal and ALC: content, respectively. In Phase II, there were 7 major defining characteristics identified for ALC: arousal and 6 major defining characteristics identified for ALC: content. In Phase III, there were 13 defining characteristics that occurred with significantly greater frequency in patients with an ALC: arousal and 17 defining characteristics that occurred with significantly greater frequency in patients with an ALC: content.

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