The family history provides information about the health of the entire family, living and dead. Pay particular attention to possible genetic and environmental aspects of disease that might have implications for the patient. Determine the age and health of all the immediate family members. If a family member is deceased, record the age of the person and the cause of death. It is important to inquire how a family member's illness affects the patient psychologically.
It is important to inquire where the patient's parents were born. Where were the grandparents born? In what setting, urban or rural, did the patient grow up? In what country did the parents grow up? If the patient was born in another country, at what age did he or she come to the United States? Does the patient maintain contact with other family members? Was the original family name changed? If the patient is married, is the spouse of the same ethnic background as the patient? What is the patient's native language?
The answers to these questions provide valuable information as a heritage assessment.
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