Families represent the primary setting within which individuals acquire information concerning health, learn specific health-related behaviors, and function as caregivers to others. Because the family and the health and well-being of its constituent members are interconnected in fundamental ways, it is critical that we develop an understanding of this primary institution, the factors that impact on its form and functioning, and their relation to health and health-related concerns. Our general goals will be to examine the ways that families provide for the mental and physical well-being of their members and interface with health institutions and agencies. A primary emphasis of this course is on the concept of family diversity with respect to issues of ethnicity and cultural background, socioeconomic status (i.e., income, education), family composition and marital status and history, sexual orientation, and family extendedness. A concomitant focus will be on exploring the range of diversity that is present within defined population subgroups, as well as the intersection of various social statuses and identities. This approach will provide some sense of the complexity of structure and function apparent within contemporary American families. Finally, a life course perspective is adopted for understanding the nature of the family and the dynamic forces (i.e., individual, family, culture and social change) that influence it.

NOTE: This course is cross listed with SW 727.

Program Year



Course Number

HBHE 629

Course Name

Families and health

Practice Area / Category