Edmund D. Pellegrino's philosophy of family practice

Theor Med. 1997 Mar-Jun;18(1-2):7-20.


Family medicine has grown as a specialty from its early days of general practice. It was established as a Board Certified specialty in 1969. This growth and maturation can be traced in the philosophy of family medicine as articulated by Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D. Long before it was popular to do so, Pellegrino supported the development of family medicine. In this essay I examine the development of Pellegrino's philosophical thought about family practice, and contrast it to other thinkers like Ian McWhinney, Kerr White, Walter Spitzer, Donald Ransom, and Hebert Vandervoort. The arguments focus on whether the goals of family medicine and family practice (possibly two distinct entities) can be articulated, especially considering the definitional problems of "family" and "community." I conclude by echoing Pellegrino's hope that family medicine can contribute a fresh alternative to isolated, individualistic and technological thinking in medicine.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Ethicists
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Family Practice / history*
  • Health Care Rationing
  • History, 20th Century
  • Managed Care Programs / trends
  • Philosophy, Medical / history*
  • Primary Health Care / history
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Resource Allocation
  • Trust
  • United States

Personal name as subject

  • E D Pellegrino