Families are the most powerful and proximal determinant of health prevention, promotion, and disruption across the life course (Haskins et al., 2014). Indeed, the economic value that families provide in caring for their individual members far exceeds that of the medical care system (Leiter et al., 2004). Primary care has been identified as an ideal setting to deliver preventative, family-based interventions (Leslie, et al. 2016). Experts define family health as “a resource at the level of the family unit that develops from the intersection of the health of each family member, their interactions and capacities, as well as the family’s physical, social, emotional, economic, and medical resources”(Weiss-Laxer et al., 2020). However, a standard instrument to assess family health in clinical settings does not exist. To fill this gap, our interdisciplinary team composed of public health researchers, family scientists, mental health providers and a primary care physician developed and validated a Family Health Scale (FHS), based on responses from N=2050 U.S. adults, representing a range of family structures (Crandall et al., under review). In this presentation, we describe the potential clinical application of a 10-item version of the FHS and its four subscales, which include: 1) Family social and emotional processes, 2) Family healthy lifestyle, 3) Family health resources and 4) Family external social capital. An example item includes: “In my family, we help each other in seeking health care services when needed (such as making doctor’s appointments).”A screening instrument assessing family health could be highly valuable in clinical settings where many health outcomes are driven by social determinants. In addition, integrated care providers may benefit from such a scale when developing treatment plans and delivering their holistic care (Berg et al., 2017). Recommendations for applications of the FHS in clinical settings, including opportunities and challenges, will be discussed. Examples will be drawn from the fields of primary care pediatrics, family medicine, and obstetrics.
- Describe the importance of assessing "family health"in primary care settings.
- Identify the core components of Family Health.
- Discuss opportunities and challenges for future clinical applications of the Family Health Scale .