Family functioning style and health: Opportunities for health prevention in primary care

Diego García-Huidobro, Klaus Puschel, Gabriela Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: The relationship between family and health has not been studied in detail in primary care. Aim: To evaluate the association between family functioning style and health problems among families receiving primary care. Design and setting: Cross-sectional study in an underserved primary care clinic in Santiago, Chile. Method: Families registered at the Juan Pablo II Primary Care Clinic in Santiago, Chile from 2006 to 2010 formed the study sample. Each family selected an adult family member to answer a questionnaire to provide data on: family sociodemographics; health problems among family members; and the family functioning style, as assessed with the Family Functioning Style Scale (FFSS). Thet-test was used to assess differences in family functioning styles between families with and without health problems, and analysis of variance was used to study the relationship between the family functioning style and the number of health problems present. Results: A total of 6202 families, comprising 25 037 people, were assessed. The following diseases and conditions were examined: in children-asthma or recurrent bronchitis, delayed development, enuresis or encopresis, behavioural problems, overweight; in adolescents and adults-teenage pregnancy, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, smoking, hypertension, type 2 diabetes,major depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and frailty. Families with health problems had a significantly lower FFSS score than families without health conditions. Mental health diseases had the strongest association with family functioning style. An inverse relationship between the number of health problems and the FFSS score was also observed. Conclusion: A better family functioning style was associated with a lower prevalence of health problems in families. Bases for further research considering the family as a target for clinical interventions are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e198-e203
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number596
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Family
  • Family relations
  • Primary health care


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