A provider’s personal definition of family and family roles might impact the assessment of a child and his or her family in several ways. Depending upon the socioeconomic, cultural, and racial background of the provider, it is possible that viewing a child and his or her family who are of a different background of the provider may cause assumptive decisions or evaluations to be made, or at the very least, it may cause a provider to either take action when not needed or to refrain from taking action when it is needed.

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If the cultural differences between the provider and the child and family being evaluated are significantly different, it may be difficult for the provider to know or understand the cultural norms for child behavior, parent behavior, and parental-child interaction. Inclusive cultures such as those of Natives and the Japanese do not outwardly display the same types of interactions in the home that they do in public, and have a provider present constitutes a public behavior, making it difficult to assess the true dynamics of the parents and the children. In addition, if the family under evaluation has migrated from another country, this migration “can often lead to intergenerational conflicts as children and adolescents negotiate two sets of home and host country cultural norms” (Degni, Pöntinen, & Mulki, 2006, n.p.).

Three strategies that a provider can utilize to assist families with making health-related decisions for children at different stages of growth and develop include modeling, educating and intervention. Modeling can lower mortality associated with health-related behavior (Individuals, 2001). Educating the families on community resources that are available is an important strategy as well. Offering ways to find access to health care providers can be the first step to comprehensive care for the family. Intervention as a strategy must entail adherence to rigorous standards and guidelines, but when appropriate, can increase the mental and physical health of the child, children, or family unit.


  • Degni, F., Pöntinen, S., & Mulki, M. (2006). Somali parents’ experiences of bringing up children in Finland: Exploring social-cultural change within migrant households. Qualitative Social Research, 7(3), n.p. Retrieved from http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs060388

  • Individuals and families: Models and interventions. (2001). Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health and Behavior: Research, Practice, and Policy. Health and Behavior: The Interplay of Biological, Behavioral, and Societal Influences. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK43749/