"As you know, a person's physical body is not just a set of organs that operate individually alongside one another. Rather, a body is a network of organs that influence each other as a system of individual parts. Families are the same in the sense that a family is not just a set of individuals who live alongside one another. Rather, a family system has rules, boundaries, roles, and patterns. The relational dynamics between the individuals are as much a part of the family as the individuals themselves.
“This is important for healthcare providers to know because, more often than not, our patients’ family members have a more significant influence on our patients’ health than we do. This is especially true in the context of chronic illness, substance abuse, mental healthcare, and also during health-related family transitions such as pregnancy, children’s healthcare, and end-of-life care.
“Think of it this way. Traditionally a patient had to go to unaffiliated care providers at different locations to get his or her various biological, psychological, and other healthcare needs met. Thankfully the healthcare system is changing with biomedical and behavioral healthcare providers working more collaboratively, allowing the patient to fit neatly into an ‘integrated’ healthcare system. However, our patients are often already part of a system of people who have a lot of influence over the health decisions they make. Having the skills to partner with our patients’ family members as members of the healthcare team can benefit not only the patient and family members, but also the providers.
“This training module is designed to help doctors develop and improve the skills necessary for working with patients’ in their family context. Over the next few minutes we will train you to use the Family-Centered Observation Form, or FCOF for short, which is a tool to help improve the family-oriented interviewing skills of both you and the healthcare providers you may teach."