History-taking is part of every clinician’s best practice, but its importance in facilitating patient compliance is sometimes overlooked. While most can agree that the patient perspective is a critical component of good medicine, research suggests patients will be more engaged in treatment plans when history-taking is patient-centered and not merely focused on patient-reported outcomes.1,2
IFM’s key history-taking tool, the Functional Medicine Timeline, is intended to help organize the patient’s experience into a history that helps both patient and clinician better understand the causes of their illness. What makes the Timeline different than other tools is that it has the effect of giving the patient insight into previous life events and validates for them that their story has been heard, both of which help to motivate them to make lifestyle modifications and engage more fully in the treatment plan. The Timeline is patient-centered because it places central importance on the patient’s experience, not just the clinician’s interpretation of the patient’s symptoms.3
The Timeline is a graphical representation that allows clinicians to identify factors that predispose, provoke, and contribute to pathological changes and dysfunctional processes in the patient’s physiology. In this way, both practitioners and patients can identify cause-effect relationships that might otherwise go unnoticed. By covering the period from preconception to the present, the Timeline reflects the connection between the whole lifespan and one’s current health.