Importance of collecting patient family health history

A family health history helps physicians and other health care practitioners provide better care for patients.

A properly collected family history can:

  • Identify whether a patient has a higher risk for a disease.
  • Help the health care practitioner recommend treatments or other options to reduce a patient’s risk of disease.
  • Provide early warning signs of disease.
  • Help plan lifestyle changes to keep the patient well. 

Know your genetic history

Types of information to be included in family history

A family history is a lifetime record that patients should provide to all their new physicians when receiving health care.

The history should be detailed, including:

  • First-, 2nd- and 3rd-degree relatives
  • Age for all relatives (age at time of death for the deceased)
  • Ethnicity (some genetic diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups)
  • Presence of chronic diseases

Creating a family history

Patients can access the “My Family Health Portrait” to:

  • Enter their family health history.
  • Learn about their risk for conditions that can run in families.
  • Print their family health history to share with family or their health care provider.
  • Save their family health history so they can update it over time.

Genetic health tools from the Surgeon General

Family history and prenatal/pediatric screening

Patient questionnaires can provide useful material to physicians who want to gather information from a couple either prior to pregnancy or during a pregnancy.  

Other questionnaires can help the health care professional get the necessary history of a child in order to help with a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Questionnaire for those expecting

Child's genetic history

Watch "Family Health History Splainer"

From Geisinger Health System

Importance of family health history

Additional resources for patients

National Human Genome Research Institute: Patients can find a listing of online tools for generating a family history.

Disease InfoSearch: Patients can use this resource to learn more about the signs and symptoms of conditions, the latest research and how to access support.

Genetics Home Reference: Patients can look up information about the effects of genetic variations on human health.

Creating a genetic family history

Disease reference

National Library of Medicine genetics reference

Importance of collecting patient family health history

A family health history helps physicians and other health care practitioners provide better care for patients.

A properly collected family history can:

  • Identify whether a patient has a higher risk for a disease.
  • Help the health care practitioner recommend treatments or other options to reduce a patient’s risk of disease.
  • Provide early warning signs of disease.
  • Help plan lifestyle changes to keep the patient well. 

Know your genetic history

Types of information to be included in family history

A family history is a lifetime record that patients should provide to all their new physicians when receiving health care.

The history should be detailed, including:

  • First-, 2nd- and 3rd-degree relatives
  • Age for all relatives (age at time of death for the deceased)
  • Ethnicity (some genetic diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups)
  • Presence of chronic diseases

Creating a family history

Patients can access the “My Family Health Portrait” to:

  • Enter their family health history.
  • Learn about their risk for conditions that can run in families.
  • Print their family health history to share with family or their health care provider.
  • Save their family health history so they can update it over time.

Genetic health tools from the Surgeon General

Family history and prenatal/pediatric screening

Patient questionnaires can provide useful material to physicians who want to gather information from a couple either prior to pregnancy or during a pregnancy.  

Other questionnaires can help the health care professional get the necessary history of a child in order to help with a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Questionnaire for those expecting

Child's genetic history

Watch "Family Health History Splainer"

From Geisinger Health System

Importance of family health history

Additional resources for patients

National Human Genome Research Institute: Patients can find a listing of online tools for generating a family history.

Disease InfoSearch: Patients can use this resource to learn more about the signs and symptoms of conditions, the latest research and how to access support.

Genetics Home Reference: Patients can look up information about the effects of genetic variations on human health.

Creating a genetic family history

Disease reference

National Library of Medicine genetics reference

Collecting family health history

Family Health History Splainer

Why Join the AMA?

An AMA membership means you’ve got access to world-class clinical research, education and insights. Access peer-reviewed medical research findings and editorial opinions from JAMA®, the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA Network Open™ and the 11 specialty journals, with CME at no cost.

Join Now

Questionnaire for those expecting

Why Join the AMA?

An AMA membership means you’ve got access to world-class clinical research, education and insights. Access peer-reviewed medical research findings and editorial opinions from JAMA®, the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA Network Open™ and the 11 specialty journals, with CME at no cost.

Join Now