Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Examples of General Questions to guide the family assessment interview
  1. Who of your family and friends would you like us to share information with and who not? (Identifies alliances, resources and conflictual relationships)
  2. How can we be most helpful to you and your family or friends during the hospitalization? (Clarifies expectations, increased collaboration)
  3. What has been most/least helpful to you in past hospitalizations or health visits? (Identifies past strengths, problems to avoid and successes to repeat)
  4. What is the greatest challenge facing your family right now? (Indicates actual/potential suffering, roles, and beliefs)
  5. What do you need to best prepare you/your family member for discharge? (Assists with early discharge planning)
  6. Who do you believe is suffering the most in your family at this time? (Identifies which family member requires the greatest support and intervention)
  7. What is the one question you would most like to have answered right now? (Explores the most pressing issue or concern)
  8. How have I been most helpful to you in this family meeting? How could I improve? (Demonstrates a willingness to learn from families and work collaboratively)

(Adapted from Wright & Leahey, 1999).

Laforet-Fliesser & Ford-Gilboe (1996) identify five broad questions that can be explored with families to assist nurses in implementing a family assessment:

  1. What is the family working on or dealing with?
  2. How is the family going about it?
  3. What does the family want or what is it working toward?
  4. What resources is the family using and what other resources could be mobilized?
  5. What aspects of the broader context of family life might explain the family’s present health behaviour or situation?