If you're a family doctor, what is it exactly that makes you a family doctor?

    • Is it that you see patients of all ages, and therefore can treat all individuals within a family?
    • Is it that you deliver comprehensive and continuous care "from cradle to grave"?
    • Is it that you practice from a holistic biopsychosocial perspective and strive to coordinate your care with other professionals?


Of course you do all of these, but you do more. As a family physician, (or any healthcare provider offering family-centered care), you view patients in the context of their families, even when their families are not present in the room. You recognize familial influence on your patients' health, and tailor your treatments to fit thier unique family dynamics. Your partner with family members to treat your patients, and sometimes you even treat the families themselves. Whether or not you are a family doctor, you are a doctor of the family.

"The specialty of family medicine

trains me to care for the whole person

physically and emotionally, throughout life

working with your medical history AND FAMILY DYNAMICS

coordinating your care with other professionals when necessary.

This is my promise to you."

- from "Family Physician's Creed" (AAFP); emphasis added


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Further Readings:

Family-centered interviewing is just one aspect of family-oriented primary care. If you would like to read more, consider these articles and books:

    • Binder, J. (2013). Family Interviewing. In Primary Care Interviewing (pp. 149-166). Springer New York.
    • Botelho, R.J., Lue, B.H., & Fiscella, K., (1996). Family involvement in routine health care: A survey of patients’ behaviors and preferences. Journal of Family Practice, 42, 572-6.
    • Campbell, T.L, McDaniel, S.H., Cole-Kelly, K., Hepworth, J., & Lorenz, A. (2002). Family interviewing: A review of the literature in primary care. Family Medicine, 34(5), 312-8.
    • Cole-Kelly, K., & Seaburn, D. (1999). Five areas of questioning to promote a family-oriented approach in primary care. Families, Systems, & Health, 17(3), 341.
    • Doherty, W. J., & Baird, M. A. (1983). Family therapy and family medicine: Toward the primary care of families. New York: Guilford Press.
    • Fleuridas, C., Nelson, T. S., & Rosenthal, D. M. (1986). The evolution of circular questions: Training family therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 12(2), 113-127.
    • Lang, F., Marvel, K., Sanders, D., Waxman, D. A. E. L., Beine, K. L., Pfaffly, C., & Mccord, E. (2002). Interviewing when family members are present. American Family Physician, 65(7), 1351-1356.
    • Marvel, K., Major, G., Jones, K., & Pfaffly, C. (2000). Dialogues in the exam room: Medical interviewing by resident family physicians. Family Medicine, 32(9), 628-632.
    • Mauksch, L. B., & Roesler, T. (1990). Expanding the context of the patient's explanatory model using circular questioning. Family Systems Medicine, 8(1), 3.
    • McDaniel, S., Campbell, T. L., Hepworth, J., & Lorenz, A. (2005). Family-oriented primary care. New York: Springer.
    • Medalie, J. H., Zyzanski, S. J., Langa, D., & Stange, K. C. (1998). The family in family practice: is it a reality? The Journal of Family Practice, 46(5), 390-396.
    • Omole, F. S., Sow, C. M., Fresh, E., Babalola, D., & Strothers III, H.. (2011). Interacting with patients' family members during the office visit. American Family Physician, 84(7), 780-784.
    • Rolland, J. S. (1994). Families, Illness, and Disability: An Integrative Treatment Model. Basic Books: New York.