Types of Agents (Nursing)

by Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

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    00:01 Today, we're going to talk about Types of Agents.

    00:04 Now there are five different types of agents: biological, chemical, nutrient, physical, and psychological.

    00:12 But before we talk about the five different types of agents, I want to make sure everyone understands what an agent is.

    00:19 An agent is simply something that causes harm to a human.

    00:23 So let's look at each in detail.

    00:26 Starting first with biological agents.

    00:30 Biological agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, worms, and insects.

    00:37 So for example, the influenza virus, that's a biological agent.

    00:43 Next, we have chemical agents.

    00:45 And chemical agents come in a variety of different forms.

    00:48 They can be liquid, solid, gas, they can also be dust or fumes.

    00:54 So an example of a chemical agent would be pesticides that we use in our garden to keep the pests away from eating our vegetables.

    01:02 Another example are industrial chemical wastes.

    01:07 The next type of agent we have here is nutrient agents.

    01:11 Now, a nutrient agent is simply an essential dietary component that could produce harm if it's taken an excess or if there's not enough of it.

    01:20 So as an example, Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets.

    01:25 On the other hand, too much vitamin A could be toxic to a human.

    01:30 Next, we have physical agents.

    01:32 And there's a few different types of physical agents, so let me walk you through each of them.

    01:37 First, we have mechanical physical agents.

    01:39 Now this could be something like an automobile.

    01:42 It could also be something as simple as a rug that's on the floor that you trip over when you're walking.

    01:47 Both are examples of mechanical physical agents.

    01:52 Next, we have a material physical agent.

    01:54 Here we see rocks from a rock slide.

    01:58 Next, we have atmospheric physical agents.

    02:01 A great example of that is ultraviolet radiation.

    02:06 Then we have a geologic physical agent, like an earthquake.

    02:11 And then finally, we have genetic physical agents.

    02:14 And when we have anything that's genetically transmitted from person to person, that's considered a physical agent.

    02:21 Now with physical agents, the size, shape and force of the physical agent influences the degree of the harm to the host.

    02:29 So the larger the force, the bigger the size, the more harm can be done to a host.

    02:36 And finally, we have psychological agents.

    02:39 Now, psychological agents are really anything that can cause you stress, because we know that stress negatively impacts our health.

    02:46 Now, it's important to remember that stress is different for everyone.

    02:50 So it stresses me out may not stress you on at all and vice versa.

    02:54 So it's important that we understand the perceptions of our patients and our populations.

    02:59 So examples of psychological agents could be not feeling safe in your neighborhood where you live.

    03:05 You could also have stress related to work or school.

    03:08 So that anatomy exam that you have coming up could be a psychological agent for you.

    03:14 Now, understanding the type of agent that's causing harm to a patient or to a population is important.

    03:20 It allows us to develop an intervention that's appropriate that will stop that specific type of agent from causing harm.

    03:27 So let's take a look at an example.

    03:30 Here we have our chemical agent, a pesticide.

    03:33 And if we know that this chemical agent is causing harm to an individual or to a population, then we can focus on eliminating that chemical from the environment.

    03:43 This is a much better approach than trying to address the harm through say management of nutrients or through physical agents in the environment.

    03:51 So again, understanding the type of agent that's causing harm to an individual or group of people helps us address that specific cause and improve the health of the public.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Types of Agents (Nursing) by Heide Cygan, DNP, RN is from the course Epidemiology (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Biological
    2. Chemical
    3. Nutrient
    4. Physical
    1. Physical
    2. Biological
    3. Chemical
    4. Nutrient

    Author of lecture Types of Agents (Nursing)

     Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

    Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

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