The family structural theory is a nursing assessment tool used to assess how a family compares to structural norms in our society. “Structural Functional theory, which explains society’s expectations of us as members, and our inability to stray too far from those expectations…In sociological analysis the dynamic of the groups in relation to other groups and the whole system is under study” (Family Crisis-Five Major Theories Structural Functional Theory, n.d.).

“As mentioned, a family’s health status can be diagnosed as functional, potentially dysfunctional, or dysfunctional. Functional family health status warrants verification by the nurse with a plan for periodic reevaluation that is formulated jointly. Plans to continue healthy living behaviors are reinforced. The nurse provides specific information requested by the family, such as immunization schedules, growth and development milestones, and recommended dietary allowances. In working with healthy families, the nurse controls the assessment and analysis phases of the nursing process” (Edelman & Mandle, 2006).

This tool can be used to start the assessment of a family but I do not feel this is a thorough tool for family health assessment and planning. I feel this tool would be best utilized in conjunction with either Gordon’s functional health patterns or the risk-factor perspective.


Edelman, C., & Mandle, C. (2006). Chapter 7. In Health Promotion throughout the life span(7th ed., p. 172-196). Retrieved from!/4/2/28/4/2/2/2@0:0

Family Crisis – Five Major Theories Structural Functional Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from