Family-centered care is an approach to medical care rooted in the belief that optimal health care outcomes are achieved when patients’ family members play an active role in providing emotional, social, and developmental support. Attention is shifted away from disease and toward the patient within the context of family and community. The family is recognized as the child’s primary source of strength and support. It is recognized that perspectives and information provided by families and their children are essential components of high-quality clinical decision making. Patients and their families are viewed as integral partners with the health care team.

Although the term was not coined then, family-centered care was the approach for infants born in the United States in the 1800s. Most infants were born at home with little involvement of physicians. Care was almost exclusively provided by the mother,...

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