The Impact of Family on Health & Well-being (09/30/13)
Shifting Responsibilities of Health to Community & Family life
-Increasing costs of healthcare has led government & policy makers to shift the responsibility of
health care to families & communities. Thus the family & communities are more involved in
looking after & caring for there members.
-Health was deinstitutionalized—eg. ppl w/ various mental conditions have their families
responsible for them but they don’t have the knowledge or werewithall to deal w/ them. This tells
us that the shift from institutions to communites & families have not worked very well esp since
they are not well-equipped w/ resources & knowledge
The Family as a Health Care agent
*taking care of responsibilities of cared ones—makes sure they’re fed, healthy
Families & Health
-“Families are perhaps the central determinant of health, the central influence in the lives of
individuals, that determine their health status & their chances for survival…the health
determinants identified by Health Canada don’t operate on their own. In fact, it is through family
that each of the determinants—poverty, social support, gender & education—have their impact”
(Vanier Institute, 1999)
Family’s Health Beliefs
-What are the current practices, values & beliefs of family? How do individual family members
incorporate these central beliefs into their day-day choices & life experiences? Is there a family
health expert? What are these messages? Do individual belief systems contrast those of the
group, ie. Are there naysayers?
-Fundamental health education takes place in the family. Parents play a big role as models for
children’s health awareness & behaviour. All children have early experiences in which those
around them shape & contribute to their health, their health practices & behaviour.
-Early years of childhood is the perfect opportunity to teach children about new ways of thinking
about their own health; teach them to be more open to suggestion, they are more malleable, etc.
Family Health Habits
-Family members influence each others’ health habits. Eating, smoking, drinking & exercise
routines are learned at home. Families also provide support for changing behaviours that put us
at risk as well as help reduce risk of illness.
-Increasingly adults are becoming role models to children. Sometimes it takes a family member to
remind us of the consequences of our actions; good for support & does reduce risk of illness.
Family Lifestyle & Health
-Healthy activity & fitness has its roots in early life experience. Strong assocn’s exist b/w parents
& children on levels of PA. Family attitudes regarding the importance or value of an active lifestyle
is critical. Early physical, cognitive & emotional growth has life long influences on health.
Family Influence Health Care
-Family members play an important role in diagnosing & treating illness (eg. flu). Families often
discuss amongst themselves whether or not to seek treatment (relates to family health habits;
some don’t go & some go too much). Families beliefs & ideas are central to health care choices
which impact future decision making
-Family involvement/practices can influence life style choices, medical regimes & also serve as
models for appropriate & inappropriate behaviour. Families are gate keepers to the health system
(they help us to decide whether to seek treatment & may encourage us)
The Role of Behaviour in Family life
-Family members influence each other’s behaviour: If a family member is at risk for CVD, then it’s
likely other family members are at risk as well. These shared CVD risks are influenced by genetic
predispositions but also through shared behaviours which may increased risk.
-Who is most likely to be affected by these shared beliefs, behaviours & habits in the family?
Children & adolescents
Resilience & Transition: The experiences of older children of drug & alcohol misusing parents -A growing number of children & young ppl have been affected by parental drug & alcohol
misuse, w/ many, relatively neglected in policy & practices debate. CRFR has conducted a study,
funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which looks at the experiences of young ppl aged 15-27
yrs old affected by parental drug &/ alcohol misuse in Scotland. *This goes to show how porous
children are & how much they can really be influenced by these scenarios.
*How do socializing processes of family relationships affect health, functioning & well-being?
Environmental factors that Affect Health (Cause & Effect model)
-Family environments can make its’ members more vulnerable to poor health which can lead to
-role expectation (who’s the leader; -powerlessness (lack of will, no
not equal roles) sense of autonomy, no say, low self-
-role overload (taking too much of esteem)
the responsibilities) -relationship conflicts
-family status -marital dissatisfaction
Social Ties & Health
-Family is the mediating agent b/w the individual & the society. There are both neg & pos effects
of social ties & family support in relation to health & illness. These negative qualities
(powerlessness, non-supportive relationships, etc) may have a stronger impact on health & well
being than positive qualities.
Negative effects of Social Ties
-Social ties can also serve as sources of conflict, envy (eg. sibling rivalry), frustration &
devaluation. They provide models of unhealthy behaviours which leads to decreased well-being &
the development & maintenance of risk factors for physical disease.
Peer Group Modelling of Tobacco, drug & Alcohol Consumption
-Peer group & family role modelling play an essential role in the adoption of smoking & alcohol
use: Childhood & adolescence are formative years—older generations teach younger ones a lot
about the use of tobacco & alcohol consumption (when ppl can’t see the boundaries around use,
these things become a problem). Parental smoking can also influence the adoption of smoking by
the adolescent child.
-Family has also been found to play a role in smoking cessation efforts (results are mixed). Same
role modelling that may have influenced tobacco use to begin w/, may also play an important role
in getting family members to quit. The amt & longevity of support & other family members were
important factors here (quitting smoking can be difficult—sometimes ppl have to change their
The Positive effects of Social Ties
-“The Impact of Family & Health” make an assertion that “marriage is assoc’d w/ physical health,
psychological well-being & low mortality” How do they explain this overall positive effect?
Family Influence Health Care Treatment Decisions
-Family members play an important role in diagnosing & treating illness. Access to medical
services & decisions about when to seek them out are also family issues. Family members
discuss amongst themselves whether/not to seek medical attention for one of their members.
Family members’ beliefs & ideas are central to health care choices.
Family are key care givers
-family-centered interventions for chronic illnesses are highly effective. Family are key sources of
support that can prevent & combat health (esp chronic health). W/o family care givi