Building a Foundation for Family Health Measurement in National Surveys: A Modified Delphi Expert Process

Nomi S. Weiss-Laxer, Alice Ann Crandall, Lauren Okano, Anne W. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Families are the most proximal and powerful context for the development, promotion, and disruption of health of individuals across the life course. Despite families’ critical role in health, U.S. nationally representative health surveys lack comprehensive and standardized assessments of family health and functioning. Methods: To foster research on family health in population surveys, we developed a conceptualization of family health using a modified Delphi process with family health experts. Experts responded online to produce consensus definitions of ‘family’ and ‘family health.’ Guided by these definitions, they responded to a survey to create a list of concepts for measurement of family health and ranked the importance and measurability of those concepts. Results: We achieved consensus among 15 family health experts on definitions of ‘family’ and ‘family health.’ Thirty-one family health concepts were organized into six domains, then ranked by relevance and importance as follows: (1) “Family relationships” and “family social context” tied for first priority, (2) “family member health, (3) “family health-related practices,” (4) “family health resources,” and (5) “management of time and activities.” Discussion: Social relationships and social environment were prioritized as more essential than other aspects of family environments typically assessed in population surveys, such as health practices and family members’ illness and disease. This study develops the scientific groundwork needed to advance routine monitoring of family health in national health surveys and in child/family performance measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Delphi expert process
  • Family health
  • Measurement
  • National health surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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