What Are Nursing Interventions? Definition, Types, and Examples

9 Min Read Published August 11, 2023
nursing interventions

If you’re interested in nursing as a potential career, you may have heard about nursing interventions and wondered what they are. Keep reading to learn all about nursing interventions, including the 3 categories, 4 types, and 7 domains of nursing interventions. 

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What Are Nursing Interventions?

Nursing interventions are actions that nurses take to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients heal and recover from illness and injury. 

In other words, interventions are the things that nurses do to care for their patients. Ideally, they’re evidence-based and are aimed at achieving specific outcomes. 

Common nursing interventions include:

  • Providing patient education
  • Administering medication 
  • Maintaining a safe environment

Nurses play an important role in promoting self-care and helping patients to make lifestyle changes that can improve their overall health and well-being. Nursing interventions are tailored to meet the needs of each patient, family, or group and can be modified as the patient’s or family’s needs change.

What is the Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC)?

The Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) is a system that was first published in 1992 as a way to standardize the language and communication of nursing work and “serve as the foundation for (the) nursing process in nursing practice, education, and research”. 

Based on ongoing research, the NIC system provides a comprehensive list of standardized nursing interventions that can be used to address patient care needs, regardless of where they may live.

The most recent 7th edition of the NIC was published in 2018. It contains 565 standardized nursing interventions and over 13,500 nursing activities. 

Along with the Nursing Outcomes Classification system (NOC), the purpose of NIC is to provide standardized terms and nursing language for “…documenting nursing care, communicating nursing care across settings, sharing data across systems, evaluating outcomes, conducting effectiveness research, measuring nursing productivity, evaluating nursing competencies, facilitating reimbursement…determining staffing needs, designing curriculum and for inclusion in big data sets.”

3 Nursing Intervention Categories

Nursing interventions can be classified into three categories: 

  • Independent
  • Dependent
  • Interdependent

Independent Nursing Interventions 

Independent nursing interventions are those that can be carried out by the nurse without seeking input or help from others. For example, administering most medications or changing a dressing. 

Dependent Nursing Interventions

Dependent nursing interventions are those that require the help or supervision of another healthcare professional. For example, stopping the bleeding from a wound that needs suturing. 

Interdependent Nursing Interventions

Interdependent nursing interventions are those that require the coordinated efforts of a nurse and at least one other member of the healthcare team. For example, when performing CPR, a nurse may provide chest compressions while another team member provides ventilation for a patient.

4 Types of Nursing Interventions With Examples

Based on their roles in healthcare, nurses use four main types of nursing interventions to achieve specific health-related outcomes, depending on the people they care for: 

  1. Health promotion
  2. Disease prevention
  3. Treatment
  4. Rehabilitation

These 4 types of nursing interventions can be carried out in many different settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and even patients’ homes.

1. Health Promotion Interventions

Health promotion interventions aim to improve people’s overall health and well-being and prevent injuries. 

Nurses can provide patient education on healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. 

In addition, nurses can help patients to quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake. 

2. Disease Prevention Interventions

The goal of disease prevention interventions is to reduce the risk of people developing specific diseases and illnesses. 

Immunizations are one of the most important nursing interventions in this category. Immunizations help to protect individuals from diseases, many of which can be deadly. By ensuring that patients are up-to-date on their vaccinations, nurses can help reduce the spread of disease and save lives. 

Nurses also play an important role in providing education about the importance of immunizations. By raising awareness about the dangers of disease and the efficacy of vaccines, nurses can help to promote immunization rates and improve public health.

3. Treatment Interventions

The purpose of treatment interventions is to manage and treat existing health problems. 

The most common treatment nurses provide is pain control. Nurses administer analgesics, reposition patients, provide cold packs, and elevate injured extremities.

4. Rehabilitation Interventions

Rehabilitation interventions help patients regain function after an injury or illness. 

Some examples of this include: 

  • Assisting a patient ambulate to regain their strength and lung capacity again after surgery. 

  • Teaching a patient how to use an incentive spirometer to improve lung function after surgery or prolonged bed rest.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

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Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

7 Domains of Nursing Interventions

Another way to identify the different types of nursing interventions is by their domain. The 565 nursing interventions are grouped into 7 different nursing intervention domains in NIC. 

The 7 domains or types of nursing interventions are: 

  1. Physiological: Basic
  2. Physiological: Complex
  3. Behavioral
  4. Safety
  5. Family
  6. Health System
  7. Community

What is the Purpose of Nursing Interventions?

Nursing interventions are designed to address the specific needs of each patient, family, or community. They are customized to fit the specific needs of each patient or family. 

In many cases, nursing interventions will focus on helping a patient cope with a chronic illness or to manage a complex health condition. However, some nursing interventions are used to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent injuries, and provide education and support for patients and their families. 

Ultimately, the goal of nursing interventions is to improve the health and well-being of all people and the groups and communities they live within.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Nursing Intervention FAQs

  • How many types of nursing interventions are there?

    • There are 4 main types of nursing interventions, while there are 7 different domains of nursing interventions. 
  • What is the best example of a nursing intervention?

    • Starting an IV and administering IV fluids to a patient who can’t eat or drink, administering medications for pain control or to treat specific medical conditions, and changing wound dressings to prevent infection are all examples of nursing interventions.
  • What is the highest priority nursing intervention?

    • The highest-priority nursing interventions can be identified according to their order of priority in sustaining human life. The ABCs of first aid reflect the highest priority interventions for nurses as well: ensuring that a patient has an open or patent airway, that a patient is breathing (or is ventilated), and that a patient’s heart is beating to circulate blood to their vital organs. All other nursing interventions have a lower priority than the ABCs.
Leona Werezak
BSN, MN, RN
Leona Werezak
Nurse.org Contributor

Leona Werezak BSN, MN, RN is the Director of Business Development at NCLEX Education. She began her nursing career in a small rural hospital in northern Canada where she worked as a new staff nurse doing everything from helping deliver babies to medevacing critically ill patients. Learning much from her patients and colleagues at the bedside for 15 years, she also taught in baccalaureate nursing programs for almost 20 years as a nursing adjunct faculty member (yes! Some of those years she did both!). As a freelance writer online, she writes content for nursing schools and colleges, healthcare and medical businesses, as well as various nursing sites.

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