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Unveiling the Power of the "SAMPLE" Technique: A Comprehensive Guide to Health History Assessment

When it comes to healthcare, gathering accurate and detailed information about a patient's health history is crucial. A comprehensive health history assessment allows healthcare professionals to understand a patient's current health status, identify potential risk factors, and make informed decisions regarding their care.

Health assessment

Understanding the "SAMPLE" Technique Health History Assessment

The "SAMPLE" technique provides a structured framework for healthcare professionals to gather relevant information during a health history assessment. Each letter in the mnemonic represents a specific aspect of the patient's health that needs to be evaluated.

Signs and Symptoms

The first step in the "SAMPLE" technique is to assess the signs and symptoms the patient is experiencing. This includes identifying any pain, discomfort, or physical changes they may have noticed. Healthcare professionals should encourage patients to provide a detailed description of their symptoms, including their onset, duration, and severity.

Example of questions to ask: "What brought you to the hospital?", "What's wrong?"


The next aspect to consider is the patient's allergies. It is essential to determine if the patient has any known allergies to medications, foods, environmental factors, or other substances. Allergies can range from mild to severe, and knowing about them helps healthcare professionals avoid potential complications during treatment.

Example of questions to ask: "Do you have any allergies?", "What happens to you when you use something that you're allergic to?"


Obtaining a thorough understanding of the medications the patient is currently taking is vital. Healthcare professionals need to gather information about prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal remedies. This information helps identify potential drug interactions, side effects, and adherence to prescribed treatments.

Example of questions to ask: "Are you taking any medications?", "What are you taking the medications for?", "When did you last take your medications?"

Past Medical History

To provide comprehensive care, healthcare professionals must explore the patient's past medical history. This includes any previous illnesses, surgeries, chronic conditions, or hospitalizations. Understanding the patient's medical background helps identify potential risk factors and provide appropriate treatment plans.

Example of questions to ask: "Have you had this problem before?", "Do you have any other medical problems?"

Last Oral Intake

The "L" in the "SAMPLE" technique stands for the patient's last oral intake. This aspect is particularly important in emergency situations or when assessing patients with gastrointestinal issues. Knowing when the patient last ate or drank helps determine the urgency of certain interventions and prevents complications during procedures.

Example of questions to ask: "When did you last eat or drink anything?", "What was it that you last ate?"

Events Leading to Present Illness

Finally, healthcare professionals need to understand the events leading to the patient's present illness or injury. This includes gathering information about any accidents, traumas, or other incidents that may have triggered their current health condition. Understanding the context of the illness helps guide diagnostic evaluations and treatment decisions.

Example of questions to ask: Injury "How did you get hurt?", Illness "What led to this problem?"

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Why is a health history assessment important? A: A health history assessment is important as it provides crucial information about a patient's current health status, risk factors, and helps guide treatment decisions.

Q2. How does the "SAMPLE" technique help healthcare professionals? A: The "SAMPLE" technique provides a structured framework for healthcare professionals to gather relevant information systematically during a health history assessment.

Q3. Can patients omit certain details during a health history assessment? A: Patients should strive to provide accurate and complete information during a health history assessment to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Q4. Is the "SAMPLE" technique applicable to all healthcare settings? A: Yes, the "SAMPLE" technique can be applied in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and emergency departments.

Q5. What should I do if I don't know the answer to a specific question during a health history assessment? A: If you are unsure about a specific detail, it is always best to be honest and consult with a healthcare professional who can help you provide accurate information.

The "SAMPLE" technique provides healthcare professionals with a systematic approach to conducting a health history assessment. By thoroughly evaluating the signs and symptoms, allergies, medications, past medical history, last oral intake, and events leading to the present illness, healthcare providers can gather essential information to make informed decisions about a patient's care.

NCLEX: National Council Licensure Examination, OIIQ: Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec, OIIAQ: Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers auxiliaires du Québec

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