Vince is a technical writer working in the medical research field.
Modern Family Stresses
The modern American nuclear family is one commonly associated with the stresses of daily living, which strain members’ abilities to engage in healthy activities. Time constraints often cause parents in such families to feel rewarded but personally drained. Lack of self-care usually involves avoiding simple, healthy activities such as proper sleep and dieting. This avoidance causes short-term benefits but long-term adverse health effects, such as diabetes and hypertension.
The family selected for this interview is of mixed race with an Italian-American mother and African American father. The mother is a psychiatric nurse, and the father works as a manager for a hotel. The family has three children: two boys (ages 13 and 17) and a girl (age 11). The interview was conducted with the mother; all information expressed is from her perspective.
Family Health Assessment Example Summary
The interviewee describes her family’s health risks and values as average, which is evidenced by her knowledge of her family history of diabetes and depression. The family is aware that their lifestyle does not always match a healthy pattern of living but views this as a sacrifice to do the things they want. Each family member has insurance and visits the doctor two to three times annually for preventative care or response to illness.
The interviewee admits to her lack of sleep, nutrition, and exercise, all of which are preventative care factors. The questions regarding nutrition were designed to identify what habits surround eating and if meals are calculated to provide nutrition while avoiding overeating. The interviewee admits that most meals are eaten “on the go.”
Food is always available in the house; therefore, true meals occur once daily, with snacking accounting for the rest of the food consumed. The interviewee does not engage in exercise personally, but the males of the family play basketball regularly, and the daughter takes dance lessons. Family activities are usually sedentary events such as playing cards, and outdoor activities are rare and typically involve minimal physical exertion, such as camping. The adults of the family report receiving less than 8 hours of sleep each night due to stress, while the children receive about 8 hours.
The interviewee knew very little about her family’s elimination habits. The interviewee reported eliminating solid waste once daily for herself but could not estimate rates for other family members. The interviewee reported frequent constipation for herself. She could not accurately assess how much fiber was in her family’s diet and did not readily know how to check for this information.
Cognitive and emotional functioning seem to be within normal bounds. The interviewee reports a family history of depression, her paternal grandparents both having completed suicide, but says there are no current signs of depression. She describes her self-esteem as “low but working on it” and attributes this to her constant drive to improve her life and attain increasing levels of success.
The interviewee describes no experiences of emotional trauma or needs to exercise any coping skills as her grandparents died when she was still very young, and she did not know them. Cognitively, the family appears normal to above average, with all family members receiving As during their time in school. The only cognitive struggle is several diagnoses of ADHD involving difficulty with homework. These instances have been effectively treated with medication, and all symptoms managed.
No impairments of the sensory or perception systems exist. Other than depression and ADHD, no evidence of neurological dysfunction exists in any family members. No biological cause for sexual dysfunction is present, and the interviewee describes low sex drive (once per month) as a normal effect of stress and time constraints.
The interviewee describes the only person who might be sexually active other than her and her husband as their eldest son, but she cannot attest to this. She reports she and her husband being each other’s only sexual partners for more than 20 years. Her son, if sexually active, most likely does not have a high number of partners.
The roles defined within the family appear to be the roles of the standard American nuclear family. The mother is the main income provider due to a recent promotion at her job, though both parents have provided mostly equally during their marriage. The children respect but at times defy the parents. Chores and home responsibilities are described as “chaotic,” with no clear delegation of tasks.
The family seems to have a comfortable relationship with extended family, seeing them on holidays or other rare occasions, and as such does not rely on them as a resource. When the children were younger, the mother’s parents watched them, but such support is no longer needed.
The first wellness diagnosis is readiness for enhanced bowel elimination, which is at least pertinent to the mother. While it is not clear if poor elimination of waste affects the entire family since the mother is the primary provider who determines what kinds of food are consumed, improving her understanding of colon health will affect the entire family.
The family is well educated, and the interviewee expressed an understanding of several nutritional concepts such as cholesterol and saturated fat; however, she seemed unaware of the effects of daily fiber in her diet. As a result of this and possible dehydration due to a busy schedule, she experiences frequent constipation. Since she has the capacity and willingness to learn about nutrition, she is ready to improve her bowel elimination (Weber, 2005).
Continuing with the pattern of a busy schedule interfering with self-care, the interviewee reported that both parents receive little sleep each night. The interviewee described a desire to receive more sleep and admitted that both she and her husband are not always so busy that they do not have time for rest, but rather they are often too stressed to sleep or stay up late watching television instead of sleeping. This pattern of behavior and ability to change is evidence for a diagnosis of readiness for enhanced sleep (Weber, 2005).
Finally, the overall pattern of neglecting self-care appears to be related to self-perception. At least with regard to the interviewee, a low assessment of herself and her achievements leads to stress, causing her to place importance on accomplishing tasks at the expense of her self-care. Given her family history of depression, she may risk falling into more serious negative patterns of behavior.
The interviewee acknowledges a need to improve her self-perception and worries that her children may begin to develop similar patterns of behavior to her own. Therefore, the family presents the criteria for a diagnosis of readiness for enhanced self-perception.
Family Health Assessment Conclusion
The family health assessment revealed a family with low risk for serious health concerns but areas for improvement. The most common health disparities appear to be linked to a lack of self-care brought on by general stresses in life. All negative health concerns noted are ones brought on by the common stresses commensurate with a family of this income level and cultural background.
The family is well educated on health issues, is reflective enough to recognize deficits, and is willing to change behavior patterns. As such, with minimal interventions to sleep, diet, and self-perception, the family would see an improvement in function and quality of life.
- Keitner, Gabor I. (2012). Family Assessment in the Medical Setting. https://www.karger.com/Article/P
Acute and chronic illness exists in a social context. A biopsychosocial assessment should include an evaluation of the patient’s social situation, the nature of the patient’s interpersonal connections, and his/her family’s functioning.
Weber, J. R. (2005). Nurses’ Handbook of Health Assessment (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.