Family Health Assessment

Family Health Assessment







The family is perceived to be the smallest unit in any society. Thus, it is a system which has a structure and function. It, therefore, becomes vital to conduct an assessment to the health patterns for any family so as to come up with a clear picture of its status before incorporating any possible health plans. The purpose of family health assessment is to make sure that the health of individuals, families and communities remains client-centered. The focus of family health assessment is to ensure that the families concede their health needs and attend to them by making proper planning and intercession strategies. At times, supportive intervention is required for weak individuals to make sure that health gains are sustainable. This paper, therefore, aims at assessing a family using various health patterns. For the purpose of analysis, the paper will make use of eleven functional health patterns as put down by Gordon. Gordon’s functional health pattern assessment framework is used particularly to collect health data for the purpose of formulating nursing diagnosis (Carpenito-Moyet, 2008). The said patterns are values and health perceptions, nutrition, sleep/rest, elimination, activity/exercise, cognitive, sensory-perception, self-perception, role relationship, and sexuality and coping.




Preliminary Approach Before Interviewing The Family



Before interviewing the family, three open-ended, family-focused questions were developed for each of the following health patterns: values and health perceptions, nutrition, sleep/rest, elimination, activity/exercise, cognitive, sensory-perception, self-perception, role relationship, sexuality and coping. The set of questions with reference to each health pattern were enumerated as shown below:


Values, health perception

Did any member of the family have surgery, chronic illness or any other illness?

Do any of you use tobacco, alcohol or any other form of drugs?

What religion do you as a family belong to?


Does the family take any vitamin or other forms of supplements?

Is the family subscribed to any form of diet?

Does any of you suffer from swallowing difficulties?


On average, how many hours does each family member sleep

Do you use any medication to trigger your sleep?

Is there any apnea related problems in your sleep?


How regularly do you have bowel movements?

Do you have problems related to diarrhea or constipation?

Does any of your family members have any bladder incontinence?


What in particular are your daily exercises/activities?

Do you exercise on a regular basis?

Do you consider yourself physically weak or strong?


Do you suffer from memory loss or lack of concentration?

Do you have problems or difficulties in decision making?

Have you ever been diagnosed with any of the above problems?

Sensory perception

Do you suffer from any problem related to vision?

Do you suffer from any hearing problem?

Do you suffer from any taste-related problems?


Do you have depression or anxiety problems?

Do you feel loss of hope?

Are you on medication for depression?

Role relationship

Are you in a marriage relationship or single?

How many children have you sired?

How do you earn your leaving; employed or in business?


How active are you sexually?

Have you been diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases?

Have you ever been on marital conflict with your partner?


How do you manage your stress?

Do you often feel relaxed or depressed?

Do you take any form of medicine, drug or alcohol when you feel like relaxing?





Family Assessment



By use Gordon’s health assessments framework (Weber, 2009), the family of Dan, who is my neighbor in Los Angeles has the following profile. The family has a father, Dan (46 years), mother (39 years), five children; three girls (7, 5 and 3 years old) and two boys (10 and 16 years old). On the assessment of the family, the revelations are that; the ten-year-old boy was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hypertension Disorder) at the age of 3 years and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) at the age of 6 years. Based on the health perception/health management pattern, the family has a score of 7 (this is on a scale range of 1 to 10) which they have maintained for the last 5 years. Interestingly, none of the family members uses alcohol, tobacco or any other form or intoxicating drugs. The father has a generic inherited disorder, thalassemia minor, which he inherited from his father.  The same disorder has been passed on to his five-year old daughter. The same daughter was also diagnosed with a blood disorder because of low hemoglobin while she was one year old. The health of the mother is in good condition despite the fact that she was diagnosed with minor GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). She however takes Protonix on a daily basis. The seven-year-old daughter and the 16 year old son have no indication of health problems. The family as a whole engages in exercise activities such as biking, hiking, and camping, though not on a daily basis.




Summary Of The Functional Health Patterns



The family under assessment was able to answer most of the questions as they were addressed to them. Depending on the family’s response, a summary of all the health patterns is analyzed as shown below.




Values And Health Perception



The family maintains different practices and habits geared at maintaining their health. The family does not in bad habits like alcoholism, drug abuse, or smoking. In addition, the family maintains annual family screening and up-to-date immunization. The family has specific religious practices, though they believe in doing what is good according to their perception of ethics. They highly value their family since they keep a closely-knit relationship by doing things together.







The dietary habit of the family is based on eating balanced meals which consist of low fat and sodium, high fiber and whole-wheat bread. The meals also consist of boils or bakes of fish and beef. They also have juices which are moderately ingested since they try to take as much water as possible. The family enjoys eating vegetables. The family’s appetite is generally good because they observe better methods of food preparation in accordance with Gordon’s framework which suggests that there should be good knowledge of food preparation and other values (Ralph & Taylor, 2005). There are indications of changes in skin, body weight or nail texture. Recently the father lost his job and so he has shown some fluctuations in weight of up to 25lbs.In addition, the mother has lost about 20lbs, making her attain her favorable body weight. Nevertheless, the children have the appropriate weight in respect to their height and age, according to the pediatrician.




Sleep And Rest



The family’s quality and quantity of sleep is adequate because the children have a routine sleep of 9 to 10 hours every night while their parents have an average sleep of 6 to 7 hours every night. However, the quality of sleep of the mother may not be appropriate because of her alternating shifts in her nursing career. This may be posing problems to her due to lack of enough rest, particularly when she has to work at night and at the same time keep with the housework during the day.







The pattern of elimination differs from one family member to another. The father has frequent bowel movement, especially in the morning during breakfast. The seven-year-old daughter and the mother often experience pronounced constipation, while the other four have a moderate bowel movement of at least once per day. Their urine is yellow in color and clear, without any sediment. There is no pain reported from any family member while urinating. The family takes laxatives occasionally especially when travel by plane or long car journeys.




Activity And Exercise



The family’s exercise pattern is not on a daily basis despite the fact that they have an active lifestyle. The most notable activities range from swimming, hiking, biking and camping. The children enjoy playing basketball, soccer and baseball, especially during school days. However, they get involved in other different activities like dancing, piano and guitar lessons during holidays. When the family members are indoors, they enjoy watching television or playing video games. These forms of activities are vital to their health and building of trust and unity among the family members.




Cognitive And Sensory Perpetual Pattern



Cerebrovascular disorders, autoimmune disorders, oncologic disorders, neurologic disorders or degenerative neurologic have not been reported in any of the family members. However, the mother, daughters and the ten-year-old son have a common sensory disorder that affects their eyes. The boy is hyperopic (long-sighted) and has a lazy left eye whilst the mother is myopic (short-sighted). The daughters are long-sighted while the father had an eye surgery some five years ago to solve his problem of wearing glasses although it was not fully corrected because he at times suffers from vision problems. Moreover, the father persistently complains of joint and muscle pain often, which he relieves using cold or hot applications.


In respect to sensory perceptual pattern, the ten-year-old boy has problems of expressing himself due to his disability. He shows some identity confusion, disturbance in self-esteem, feeling of self powerlessness and distorted body image. The boy has been undergoing treatment for depression triggered by his disability although more needs to be done to improve his health status. The family admits undergoing a self-adjustment process from the job loss. They seem to be informed on the risks that are posed by failure to cope with changes.




Roles And Relationships



In relation to the roles and relationship in the family, each family member described the role of the mother being at the front line in bringing their bread on the table. The father, on the hand, was described as the caregiver of the family members since the loss his job five years ago. Sexuality


The mother had eight pregnancies and five births. However, the parents asserted not to have had any difficulties in sexual functioning and that they have all through been having a satisfactory sexual relationship. They also asserted that the two boys have received sufficient sex education within the school system. The parents also admit reinforcing the same at home.







Family health assessment by use of Gordon’s framework helps in making family diagnosis. This framework helps to determine the psychosocial functioning of the family and making provisions of frameworks of intervention by providing vital information about family members and their interactions and roles.




Carpenito-Moyet, L. J. (2008). Nursing Diagnosis: Application to Clinical Practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Ralph, S. P., & Taylor, C. M. (2005). Nursing Diagnosis Reference Manual. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Weber, J. R. (2009). Nurses’ handbook of health assessment. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


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