Family Issues

1 Routinely ask about family issues to understand their impact on the patient’s illness and the impact of the illness on the family.

SOO: this is important for the social & developmental context and illness experience.
  • Use open-ended questions to inquire periodically about family issues
  • Focus attention as needed on important family issues which may not be directly related to the patient’s medical condition, but may significantly affect their illness or Tx
  • Analyze potential conflicts between pt and family members / physician, general family functionality, and the impact of the sick role on the family structure and function
  • It can be helpful to have both the pt and family be willing participants in the pt’s Tx plan
    • pregnancy as motivation to stop smoking
    • death of a family member and grieving leading to noncompliance with medications.

2 Explore family issues:

  • periodically
  • at important life-cycle points (e.g., when children move out, after the birth of a baby)
  • when faced with problems not resolving in spite of appropriate therapeutic interventions (e.g.medication compliance, fibromyalgia, hypertension).
Family Life Cycle:
  • Living independently from family
  • Committing to a relationship
  • Living together
  • Raising children / adolescents
  • Children leaving home, empty nest
  • Retirement

Provide emotional support & education to pt and their family; empower them to take charge of the pt’s management.


Crouch Michael A, Leonard R. The Family in Medical Practice. New York: Springer-Verlag; 1987.

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Posted in 37 Family Issues, 99 Priority Topics, FM 99 priority topics, Others

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