How can I approach my relatives when developing a family medical history?

Your family may want to work together on developing your family medical history. Holidays and reunions can provide a good opportunity for you and your relatives to gather information. Not everyone, however, may be comfortable disclosing personal medical information. A number of factors may contribute to a person's reluctance to discuss medical issues, including guilt, shame, and painful memories. Consider the following strategies to address these issues with your relatives:
  • Share your purpose. Explain that you're creating a record to help you determine whether you and your relatives have a family history of certain diseases or health conditions. Offer to make the medical history available to other family members so that they can share the information with their doctors.
  • Provide several ways to answer questions. Some people may be more willing to share health information in a face-to-face conversation. Others may prefer answering your questions by phone, mail or email.
  • Word questions carefully. Keep your questions short and to the point.
  • Be a good listener. As your relatives talk about their health problems, listen without judgment or comment.
  • Respect privacy. As you collect information about your relatives, respect their right to confidentiality. Some people may not want to share any health information with you. Or they may not want this information revealed to anyone other than you and your doctor.

Continue Learning about Managing Your Medical Records

Getting Your Medical Record Is a Cinch
Getting Your Medical Record Is a Cinch
Change happens all the time -- in the medical profession and in your own life. Perhaps a great job opportunity requires a cross-country move. Or maybe...
Read More
What is a "consent to treat minors" form?
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
A consent to treat minors or “permission to treat” names caregivers who have permission to make ...
More Answers
How can health IT gain access to my records in an emergency?
ONC Consumer eHealth & Blue ButtonONC Consumer eHealth & Blue Button
Health information technology (health IT) can help secure access to information in emergencies. In t...
More Answers
What Are Some Body Numbers I Should Know About Myself?
What Are Some Body Numbers I Should Know About Myself?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.