Family Medicine and the Life Course Paradigm

Daleman and Elder’s (2007) article “Family medicine and the Paradigm of Life Course” explores the impact on the health of individual patients of the family, the social and cultural environment.
Theory System
This paper uses two theories: function theory and the theory of the family system (Daaleman & Elder, 2007). The position theory describes the social role of individuals in the family according to social expectations or criteria. The theory of roles requires the allowable behavioral type according to social norms. For example, the society requires women to take care of the family and the households while the man should provide basic needs for the family. On the other hand, the family system theory states that it is not possible to understand an individual in isolation from others. The authors used these theories to determine the relationship between the changing eras and the life of the patient.

The Main Ideas

The central hypothesis is that family, social, and cultural organization plays a crucial role in health and care of an individual. The authors sought to answer the question, how to integrate the health care services with patients and practice within the context of community and family.


The authors used categorical data set. The study did not use a specific number of respondents thus the sample size is not known. However, the authors used parents between 20 and 70 years to determine health trajectories. The study is longitudinal since the authors did multiple observations overtime. For example, when the authors were collecting data on life span concepts of aging and development, they collected information on autobiographical memory and later gathered information on sociology and psychological development.


The main research findings revolve around the role of family in the health care and environment in which the patient lives. First and foremost, family medicine should organize and integrate multiple social and biological factors to obtain efficient healthcare outcome (Daaleman & Elder, 2007). Second, physicians should consider the cultural and social context of the patient since it helps in outlining care options and facilitate decision making. Daaleman and Elder (2007) also found that the life course principles guide the physicians’ attention to the cultural factors affecting the patient’s plans, choices, and initiative regarding their health care and health. These findings support the hypothesis since the author wanted to establish the role of family, social, and cultural organization during health care delivery to the patient. The main ideas, which emerged from the conceptual framework, include obtaining patient feedback and using life events to improve the quality of human life.

The Conclusion

The article concludes that the family medicine has roots on people’s commitment rather than the body of knowledge. Therefore, physicians require orientation that integrates, conceptualize, and humanizes the health experience of a patient. Family medicine also requires articulation of world view of doctors who collect information on health, interpret, and share the events with the patient in a continuous health relationship.

The Implications

The article findings have broader implication in the health sector. The collection, interpretation and sharing of health information helps in improving and delivering quality health care. The findings add information on the new model whereby health workers coordinate and support family caregivers. The life course physicians train caregivers while improving the health of a defined population. For example, caregivers can minimize developmental risks such as poor diet and provide adequate health development trajectory. According to Daaleman and Elder (2007), when physicians consider the social and cultural context of the patient, it ensures that healthcare practitioners idealized the delivery system. In other words, the healthcare professionals use the principles of linked lives, human agency, family medicine investigators, and lifelong human development to provide holistic health care to the patient. In fact, patients are satisfied when they are given the role to play in the medical process.

The social role conflict experienced in the society would reduce. The physicians would explain to the family members their role in caring for patients. For example, the intervention to reduce obesity among children requires the social tie, cognitive dimension, and influence by parents. The implications of the findings are vital since the physicians encourage patient-centered services. These services also help the doctors to provide alternative and complementary medicine in an attempt to deliver quality health care.

The consequences of implications are that it reduces the technological implementation and persuades people to change with time. Patients would like the physicians to conduct the healthcare based on the social and cultural factors. However, this might affect the technological implementation since they are designed to care for all patients. Nonetheless, the role-theoretical findings would change the life cycle, the role, and enable people to locate their lives within the social context. As such, people would begin to change their position to match the changing trend.

The particular group such as elderly would find it easy to receive care from other members of the family. That is, every person regardless of gender has the duty to care for the elderly. The society would be forced to change due to the effects of technological advancement. Basing treatment on culture and social factors reduce the health care delivery time and quality. The structural way of addressing the issue of cultural and social factors in healthcare are involving ethnic leaders in the healthcare system and providing the structural fund. The ethnic leaders have the capability of ensuring that they impart the right information to the community on health care changes. Structural Fund provides that the physicians have adequate resources to carry out research on effective healthcare intervention. For example, the researchers may consider economic and social effects of poverty, illiteracy, and chronic illness on the patient. The study could influence the policy change by ensuring that the healthcare system incorporates social and cultural aspects in healthcare delivery. That is, the healthcare system is forced to consider social setup, intellectual development of family medicine, and interdisciplinary framework when preparing policies on health care.

Discussion Questions

For further studies the following questions are vital. First, what are the intellectual infrastructures required to change the way patient view health care from social and cultural context?Second, how to make the community agree with the scientific findings and assumptions regarding health?


Daaleman, T. P., & Elder, G. H. (2007). Family medicine and the life course paradigm. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 20(1), 85-92.

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