The ABC’s of a Family’s Medical History Tree –What Families Should Know

Virginia Ann Peterson
September 5, 2014 — 2,995 views  
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A family medical tree is defined as a history of medical conditions and diseases.   The tree outlines medical history of a family from several generations.  Starting a family medical tree can be used to educate family members of common conditions and diseases that may run in a particular family.  Conditions such as high blood pressure, (hypertension), diabetes, heart attacks (myocardial infarctions), strokes (cerebral vascular accidents) cancers, and arthritis  to name a few.  This is a great tool for families to use to paint a picture of familial medical conditions.   A family medical history tree can provide pertinent medical information to a person’s medical care team.   A family medical history tree is a great resource at annual physicals for updated information for your health care providers. 

A family medical tree history tree can be started at any time.   If a family has a genealogy tree, this can be a great for starting point because the names are already available.  Pooling information for the medical tree can be done as easy as emailing family members and asking for specific medical diseases within the family’s lineage.   Beginning with your immediate family members and branching out to grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews is a great start.  The family can choose a designated person or persons to be the liaison for gathering the information.

Listed below are the ABC’s to gathering information for the branches and leaves of your family medical history tree.   Ask various relatives about living and deceased relatives.   Believe that relatives are willing to help.   Compile and create good records/information.   Discuss, detect, and discover diseases within your family.  Explore and Examine records such as medical records and death certificates.  Follow-up on all leads from reliable family sources.    Gather information at your level of confidence.     H – Have an open mind while you are gathering information.         Involve several family members to be responsible for portions of the tree.   Join in on conference calls or skyping sessions.         Keep your family abreast of the progress.   Listen and learn from family elder members.   Motivate all members of the family. N – Notify the team at intervals with the progress. O -        Prepare the information at your pace.  Question your concerns.       Review your findings with family during the process.       Share the knowledge.   Talk and teach the younger generation of this valuable process.  U – Unite and update estranged family members.   Verify the information before finalizing.   Welcome information from several family members.   X  - E(X)plain the importance to members who may not be onboard or skeptical.         Z – Zip the plan and share.

The benefits of a family medical history tree have a two-fold purpose.  The first is for the current family members and medical healthcare providers.  The second purpose is for generations to come.  The process of updating this vital document must be maintained and passed on to future family members.  Keep your family medical history tree growing and fertilized with information for future generations to come.

Virginia Ann Peterson