A Comprehensive Guide to Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns

Introduction to Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns

To stay healthy and lead a fulfilling life, it is crucial to assess and understand our overall well-being. This is where Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns come into play. These patterns provide a comprehensive framework for assessing an individual’s health and identifying areas of improvement. This article will delve into the significance of a comprehensive health assessment, explore Gordon’s 11 functional health patterns, and discuss how these patterns can be applied in practice.

History of Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns

Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns were devised by Marjory Gordon in 1987 for the comprehensive nursing assessment of a client. The word “pattern” was used for recurring behaviors to prominent their significance. Gordon proposed 11 functional health patterns to identify the functional and dysfunctional behaviors in a person. Gordon writes in his book that functional health patterns were first identified by the Boston College School of Nursing in 1974 for the better collection of data in nursing assessment.

These functional health patterns are; health perception-health management pattern, nutritional-metabolic pattern, elimination pattern, activity-exercise pattern, sleep-rest pattern, cognitive-perceptual pattern, self-perception and self-concept pattern, role-relationship pattern, sexuality-reproductive pattern, coping-stress tolerance pattern, value-belief pattern. After the 12th NANDA conference, the work was initiated on Taxonomy-II by NANDA Taxonomy Committee. The members of this committee expressed their concerns regarding the unclear classification of nursing diagnosis and ease of its use.

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Finally, it was decided by the committee to adapt Marjory Gordon’s 11 Functional Health Patterns for Taxonomy-II for the basis of taxonomic structure. Permission was granted by Marjory Gordon to use and adapt Functional Health Patterns in Taxonomy-II. After the refinement of Taxonomy-II, at the 14th NANDA conference in April 2000, the Taxonomy-II was presented to NANDA members for further consideration. The Board of Directors of NANDA approved the Taxonomy-II for its use in the nursing process.

What is Health Assessment?

A health assessment is a systematic approach used to assess an individual’s overall health status. This process generally involves a series of questions about a person’s medical history, physical examination, and occasionally, specific clinical tests. A health assessment aims to dig up any existing health issues, identify possible risks, and give an overall understanding of an individual’s well-being.

The extent of a health assessment varies depending on the context. It can be comprehensive, focusing on all aspects of health including physical, mental, and social dimensions. Alternately, it can be more specific, centering only on certain aspects like psychological health or nutritional status. Regardless of its scope, the health assessment is a critical tool in healthcare management as it informs the development of personalized care plans.

The outcomes of a health assessment are used to guide healthcare professionals in determining the most applicable interventions to address an individual’s needs. They can also be used to monitor progress in managing chronic conditions or evaluating the effectiveness of treatment strategies. In addition, health assessments offer valuable information for health promotion and disease prevention strategies. A health assessment may be conducted by a variety of healthcare professionals such as nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, and dietitians. The process generally starts with gathering information about a person’s medical history, lifestyle habits, and current symptoms or health concerns. This is followed by a physical examination which may include measurements of vital signs, checking body systems, and performing diagnostic tests if necessary.

Importance of Comprehensive Health Assessment

Before we dive into Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns, it is essential to understand the importance of a comprehensive health assessment. A comprehensive health assessment allows healthcare professionals to gather information about an individual’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. It goes beyond the traditional medical examination and takes into account various aspects of a person’s life that can impact their overall health. By conducting a thorough assessment, healthcare providers can identify potential health risks, develop personalized treatment plans, and empower individuals to take control of their health.

The Significance of Community Health Planning

Community health planning plays a vital role in promoting the well-being of a population. It involves assessing the health needs and resources of a community, identifying priorities, and implementing strategies to address those needs. By engaging community members and stakeholders in the planning process, community health planning ensures that interventions are tailored to the specific needs and values of the population. It fosters collaboration and empowers individuals to actively participate in improving their health and the health of their community.

Conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment

A community health needs assessment is a systematic process that identifies the health needs and assets of a community. It involves collecting data from various sources, such as surveys, interviews, and existing health records, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the community’s health status. The assessment examines various factors that influence health, including social determinants, access to healthcare services, and the prevalence of specific health conditions.By conducting a community health needs assessment, healthcare providers and policymakers can identify areas of improvement and develop targeted interventions to address the unique needs of the community.

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Exploring Gordon’s 11 Functional Health Patterns

Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns provide a holistic framework for assessing an individual’s health. These patterns encompass various aspects of a person’s life and provide a comprehensive view of their overall well-being. By examining each pattern, healthcare professionals can identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement in a person’s health. Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns are helpful to identify the three types of health patterns in a person that are functional, dysfunctional, and potentially dysfunctional patterns.

A. Functional patterns of a human:

The functional patterns of a human are the strengths and powers of a client to overcome dysfunctional and potential dysfunctional patterns. These patterns are considered normal in any human being. For example, how a person copes or handles the stressful situations in their daily life.

B. Dysfunctional patterns of a human:

The dysfunctional patterns of humans are the concerns where the nurse identifies the problem in normal health patterns. For example, a nurse identifies the high blood pressure of a client. On further assessment, the nurse identifies the coping strengths of the client and plans the teaching based on the strengths of the client rather than nursing interventions such as lifestyle changes, daily exercise, and quitting smoking.

C. Potential dysfunctional patterns of a human:

These patterns are risk conditions of a client which can develop in the future. For example, a Pre-diabetic client is at risk for developing the condition as a Diabetic. The nurse utilizes the knowledge to educate the patient to monitor the blood sugar level, modify the lifestyle, and regularly follow up with the physician.

Let’s explore each of the 11 functional health patterns in detail.

Pattern 1: Health Perception-Health Management

This pattern focuses on how individuals perceive their health and how they manage it. It includes factors such as health beliefs, health practices, and the use of healthcare services.

three dimensional view of faces

By assessing this pattern, healthcare professionals can understand an individual’s level of health awareness and their willingness to engage in health-promoting behaviors. Multiple factors contribute to the ability of a person to achieve an optimal level of health such as environment, intact sensory system such as optimum functioning of cognitive, sensory, and motor activities, familial, cultural, and societal values and belief. This pattern is comprised of two parts understanding (health perception) and control (health management).

Pattern 2: Nutritional-Metabolic

The nutritional-metabolic pattern examines an individual’s dietary habits, nutritional intake, and metabolic function. It helps identify potential nutritional deficiencies, food intolerances, and metabolic disorders.

man and woman showing some food items

By understanding this pattern, healthcare professionals can develop personalized dietary recommendations and interventions to improve an individual’s nutritional status. Sociological, psychological, and physiological factors affect this pattern. Sociological factors such as social or cultural food preference, low income, unsafe or inadequate storage of food, and social isolation. Psychological factors such as stress may cause the anorexia nervosa and overeating of a person. Physiological factors such as vitamin deficiency.

Pattern 3: Elimination

The elimination pattern focuses on an individual’s bowel and bladder function. It includes assessing bowel habits, urinary patterns, and any issues related to elimination.

woman putting hands on abdomen

By evaluating this pattern, healthcare professionals can identify potential gastrointestinal or urinary problems and provide appropriate interventions or referrals. Elimination is an individualized process that can be influenced by diet, activity, circadian rhythms, stress, age, and culture.

Pattern 4: Activity-Exercise

The Activity-Exercise Pattern examines an individual’s level of physical activity, exercise routine, and ability to engage in activities of daily living.

man and woman doing exercise

By assessing this pattern, healthcare professionals can identify barriers to physical activity and provide recommendations to improve an individual’s overall fitness and mobility. Dysfunctions of the cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and respiratory systems are major contributors that affect the energy level and level of a person’s mobility.

Pattern 5: Sleep-Rest

The sleep-rest pattern evaluates an individual’s sleep quality, sleep duration, and any disruptions to their sleep routine. It helps identify sleep disorders, insomnia, or other conditions that may affect sleep patterns.

man sleeping on resting chair

By addressing this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide strategies to improve sleep hygiene and promote better restorative sleep. Many contributing factors may affect normal sleep patterns such as stress, age, noise, and activity.

Pattern 6: Cognitive-Perceptual

The cognitive-perceptual pattern assesses an individual’s cognitive function, sensory perception, and ability to process information.

man thinking about something

It helps identify cognitive impairments, sensory deficits, or cognitive-behavioral issues. By understanding this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide appropriate interventions or referrals to support cognitive well-being.

Pattern 7: Self-Perception-Self-Concept

The self-perception-self-concept pattern focuses on an individual’s self-esteem, body image, and overall self-perception.

man watching his shadow

It helps identify issues related to self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, or distorted self-perception. By addressing this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide support and interventions to enhance an individual’s self-perception and promote positive self-esteem.

Pattern 8: Role-Relationship

The role-relationship pattern examines an individual’s roles, responsibilities, and relationships with others. It helps identify issues related to role strain, role conflict, or dysfunctional relationships.

people meeting with each other

By assessing this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide guidance and interventions to improve an individual’s role performance and enhance their relationships. Multiple factors may influence the role and relationship of a person such as age, society, culture, family dynamics, race, gender, and economics.

Pattern 9: Sexuality-Reproductive

The sexuality-reproductive pattern focuses on an individual’s sexual health, reproductive function, and sexual relationships. It helps identify sexual dysfunction, reproductive issues, or concerns related to sexual health.

man and woman meeting each other

By addressing this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide education, counseling, or referrals to support an individual’s sexual and reproductive well-being. This pattern may be influenced by race, gender, anxiety, stress, environment, social and cultural expectations, health status, lifestyle, expression of feelings, and self-concept.

Pattern 10: Coping-Stress Tolerance

The coping-stress tolerance pattern examines how individuals cope with stressors and their ability to adapt to challenging situations. It helps identify maladaptive coping mechanisms, high levels of stress, or ineffective stress management strategies.

man putting hands on his head

By assessing this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide support, resources, and interventions to improve an individual’s coping abilities and enhance their stress tolerance. As per the conceptual framework, four levels of coping and stress response have been described.


It is based on day-to-day stressors that can affect all systems of living. The self-regulation process activates to overcome these stressors.


It is based on the less routine encounter of stressors system triggers an alarm which is not prolonged. Temporary Insomnia, fear, anxiety, tachypnea, the sensation of bladder fullness, frustration, and shame are the signs and symptoms of level-2 coping and stress response. Individuals can be assisted by identifying and encouraging others to solve these problems.


It develops when persistent and threatening stress is encountered which activates the body’s emergency adaptation process. This level usually requires help from a healthcare professional that includes teaching, identifying strengths, and coping.


It develops when the body’s response mechanism fails to adapt to a stressful situation with assistance. This stage requires an advanced approach by seeking the help of professionals and making unique coping strategies.

Pattern 11: Value-Belief

The value-belief pattern explores an individual’s personal values, beliefs, and spiritual practices. It helps identify values conflicts, spiritual distress, or issues related to belief systems.

man picking up a gear

By understanding this pattern, healthcare professionals can provide support and interventions to promote spiritual well-being and address any conflicts or distress related to personal values and beliefs.

Applying the Functional Health Patterns in Practice

Now that we have explored Gordon’s 11 functional health patterns, let’s discuss how they can be applied in practice. Healthcare professionals can use these patterns as a framework for conducting a comprehensive health assessment. By systematically examining each pattern, they can gather relevant data, identify areas of concern, and develop targeted interventions to address the individual’s unique needs. The patterns also serve as a communication tool, allowing healthcare professionals to effectively communicate with individuals, families, and interdisciplinary teams about a person’s health status and care plan.

Resources for Further Exploration

If you are interested in delving deeper into Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns, there are various resources available for further exploration. There are various books written on Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns you can download these books on www.pdfdrive.com. Books provide comprehensive information on applying the functional health patterns in nursing practice. Online resources, such as the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) website, offer additional information and tools for utilizing the patterns in clinical settings. By utilizing these resources, healthcare professionals can enhance their understanding of the functional health patterns and their application in practice.

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Benefits and Limitations of Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns

Like any assessment tool, Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns have their own set of benefits and limitations. One of the key benefits is their holistic approach to health assessment, which considers various aspects of a person’s life. This allows healthcare professionals to obtain a comprehensive view of the individual, enabling them to develop individualized care plans that address the person’s unique needs. The patterns also provide a standardized framework for assessing health, promoting consistency and accuracy in the assessment process.

However, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns. These patterns may not capture all aspects of an individual’s health, as they primarily focus on functional areas rather than specific diseases or conditions. Additionally, the patterns rely on subjective data provided by the individual, which may be influenced by factors such as cultural beliefs, social desirability bias, or limited health literacy. Healthcare professionals should be mindful of these limitations and utilize additional assessment tools and resources to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s health.


Optimal health is a lifelong journey that requires a comprehensive understanding of our well-being. Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns offer a valuable framework for assessing an individual’s health and identifying areas of improvement. By exploring each of the 11 functional health patterns, healthcare professionals can gather relevant data, develop personalized care plans, and empower individuals to take control of their health. By utilizing these patterns in practice, healthcare professionals can unlock the key to optimal health and promote the well-being of individuals and communities.

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