As a student nurse, one of the things you’ll earn is how to collect patient family history. For some, this may seem unnecessary; if you have a patient’s history, why do you need to know about their family’s health? The reason is simple: many chronic conditions are inherited, and learning a patient’s family history can help you diagnose them earlier and faster.
Scientific research into disease causes has demonstrated that some people are predisposed to certain conditions because of their genes. If one comes from a family of people with a long history of diabetes, for example, there is a good chance they will develop it at some point.
Common conditions like asthma and obesity also seem to be passed down through genetics and certain heart conditions. As a nurse, understanding chronic issues within a patient’s family can help you make diagnoses and deliver treatment faster.
Enrolling in a DNP-FNP online program will teach you how to make a comprehensive patient history. All courses, including advanced health assessment, pediatric primary care, advanced practice, and primary care transition, emphasize patient and family history as a critical step in diagnosis and treatment.
What is family health history?
It is a family health record that shows what conditions the family has had to deal with in the past. It usually goes back three generations and includes all close relatives (parents, children, aunts and uncles, nephews, and nieces).
Families often grow up in similar backgrounds and have similar lifestyles. They, therefore, tend to suffer similar medical conditions. Understanding what others from within the same family have suffered from in the past can help you diagnose a patient faster and with great accuracy.
What is the value of a family health history?
The primary reason for seeking this information is to provide better, timely patient care. With the right information, you can:
- Establish whether your patient has a higher disposition for certain chronic conditions.
- The nurse can recommend treatments and other interventions to reduce the likelihood of developing chronic illness whenever possible.
- They can identify symptoms early.
- They can help patients make lifestyle changes that make them less susceptible to chronic disease.
What information should a nurse collect from a family medical history?
Ideally, the nurse should talk to the patient’s relatives, especially if they are too sick to pass on coherent information. They should find out the age of all 2nd and 3rd-degree relatives, their ethnicity, what chronic illnesses they may have, and when they developed them.
Nurses should also encourage patients to find their family’s health history. The American Medical Association has an excellent portal that tells you what diseases one is predisposed to based on family history.
A family medical history can provide nurses with valuable information that they can use to create better treatments for their patients. It indicates a predisposition towards certain illnesses, so nurses can use the knowledge they gain to help patients make lifestyle changes that lower the risk of chronic disease.