Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Sample Questions for Key Areas of Family Assessment

Family Perceptions of the Event(s) 

  • Family appraisal of the event: What is the family’s perception of the event? Is it expected or unexpected? What is the family’s estimate of the strength and duration of the event?
  • Major concerns: What are the family’s major concerns?

Family Structure 

  • Identifying data: Names, ages, addresses. Who is the primary person to contact? Does the family have any transportation difficulties?
  • Composition: Family Unit - Could you tell me who is in the family? Is there anyone else who is not related that you think of as family? How close is the family? Who lives with you? Are there any family pets? Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • Culture/ethnicity: Knowledge and customs of family - Could you tell me about the family’s cultural background? Does ethnicity influence the family’s health beliefs? Are there any ethnic customs the family gains strength from or may need assistance with?
  • Spiritual identification: Characteristic values of a person which may or may not be a religious affiliation - Are your spiritual beliefs a resource for family members? Is there anyone that can be contacted to assist the family with their spiritual needs?
  • Sexual identification: The sexual orientation with which a family member identifies or is identified - Some people who are facing an experience similar to your family are concerned about their sexual abilities and their sexual partners. It may be helpful for us to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
  • Economic status: Income of family - Who is (are) the breadwinner(s) in the family? Is the family able to meet current and future needs? What type of work are family members involved in?
  • Lifestyle and health behaviours: Nutrition, drugs and alcohol, smoking, activity and rest.
  • Developmental stage: Family’s present developmental stage and developmental stage history [e.g., births, retirement, aging parents, deaths], extent to which the family is fulfilling the developmental tasks appropriate for their developmental stage.
  • Power and role structures: Who makes what decisions? Are family members satisfied with how decisions are made and who makes them? What positions and roles do each of the family members fulfill? Is there any role conflict? How are family tasks divided up?
  • Communication: Family’s ability to interact with one another - What languages do you speak at home or with your family members?
  • Are family members able to communicate openly with one another? Is conflict openly expressed and discussed? Do family members respect one another?

Environmental Conditions 

  • Home characteristics: Type of characteristics of the home - Can you describe your home? Do you own or rent? Do you consider your home adequate for your needs?
  • Community characteristics: Describe your neighbourhood/community, e.g., rural or urban, schools, recreation, access to healthcare, crime rate, environmental hazards, etc.

Family Strengths 

  • Health patterns: Family’s health beliefs, values and behaviours - How does the family assess their present health status? What are your present family health issues?
  • Values: Family’s fundamental ideas, opinions, and assumptions - What values/beliefs does the family have that have assisted them in adapting successfully or unsuccessfully?
  • Coping mechanisms: Ability to adapt to the life event and maintain emotional well-being and stability of its members - How has the family responded to past life events? What helped the most and the least? What strengths does the family have to assist with their response? Do family members differ in their ways of responding?
  • Problem solving: Family’s ability to organize a life event into manageable components and to identify courses of action to solve it effectively. How has the family resolved problems in the past? What resources have they used?
  • Family Resources and Supports: Resources the family uses to assist in adapting to the life event – What internal (inter, intra) and external (extra) resources or supports is your family using?