What Is Subjective and Objective Nursing Data?

In nursing, subjective data refers to information from a patient’s point of view, such as pain levels, feelings and perceptions, whereas objective data refers to measurable aspects of a patient’s condition found through diagnostics, tests and examination, notes Delmar Cengage Learning. The primary source of both sets of data is the patient.

Examples of subjective data from a patient’s perspective include itching, worrying, internal perceptions and pain. Subjective data are generally referred to as symptoms as described by the patient, according to Brookside Associates. Objective data are detectable to an observer or can be tested against accepted standards. Blood pressure, skin discoloration, heart rate, breathing and crying are all objective data. This type of observable information is collectively known as signs exhibited by a patient.

Nurses collect subjective and objective data through a physical assessment. During a physical assessment, a nurse inspects the patient for overall appearance including mood, hygiene, posture, body odors and attitude. Health care professionals gather information about a patient during an assessment including age, marital status, race and religion. Subjective data are also obtained by asking questions about pain, soreness, sleep and lifestyle, notes Brookside Associates.

Following an assessment, a nurse notes subjective and objective data in a patient’s written profile. For instance, a nurse may observe tremors in the hands, dark urine, combed hair and applied makeup. A patient’s assertions about loneliness and nervous energy are subjective data, according to RNSpeak.com.