Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Background
  • The Family plays an integral role in promoting and maintaining health of family members, as well as providing physical and emotional support.
  • Focusing on the family is an integral component of nursing practice, as health and illness behaviours are learned within the context of the family.
  • Families are affected when one or more members experience related health issues.
  • The family is a significant factor in the health and well-being of individuals, and promotion, maintenance and restoration of families are important to society’s survival (Harmon Hanson & Thalman Boyd, 1996).
  • An example of a structural definition of a family is:
    • A now-married couple (with or without never-married sons and/or daughters of either or both spouses), a couple living common-law (with or without never-married sons and/or daughters or either or both partners), or a lone parent of any marital status, with at least one never-married son or daughter in the same dwelling (Statistic Canada, 1994).
  • A functional definition of the family is as follows:
    • Family is defined as any combination of two or more persons who are bound together over time by ties of mutual consent, birth, and/or adoption/placement and who together, assume responsibilities for variable combinations (for such things as) physical maintenance and care of group members (Vanier Institute of the Family, 1994).