Since the birth of the specialty of family practice in 1969, a recurrent topic of controversy has been the degree to which our specialty should address itself to the family as a unit of care. A tenet of family medicine has been to provide comprehensive health care to the entire family, but what is meant by the “entire family?” The majority of physicians in family practice have interpreted this phrase to mean “all of the people in a household.” In 1973, Ransom and Vandervoort1 challenged the newly born discipline of family medicine to consider the family as something greater than the sum of its parts and to recognize that the family as a social system must become an integral part of understanding the context in which an individual becomes ill. Many health care problems that are seen by a family physician can be neither understood nor successfully dealt with when considered as isolated phenomena affecting only one person.
KeywordsFamily Physician Family System Family Practice Family Function Family Orientation
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