Answered By: Kristie Keuntjes, Learning Services Coordinator
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2019     Views: 2143

What is a pedigree?  What is a genogram?

A pedigree is a family tree that includes the family members and information about their health.  A pedigree is similar to a genogram; however, it does not include the psychological factors included in a genogram. 

You will often hear the terms genogram and pedigree used interchangeably.  A genogram is a tool for tracking family history and relationships similar to a family tree.  Genograms indicate gender, age, ethic origin, health status, educational achievements, family relationships, social relationships, and emotional relationships using a series of color coded lines, shapes, and symbols.

What is a pedigree used for?

A pedigree is used by clinicians to track family history and to look for patterns or indications to help diagnose a patient.

How is a pedigree created?

Before creating a pedigree, it is important to gather the information needed first.

  1. Write a list of all family members including parents, siblings (including half-siblings), children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
  2. Write all of the known factors about each family member including health and medical history.  Interviews with the family members may need to be conducted to gather the necessary information.
    • Age or date of birth
    • Ethnic origin
    • Date of death for family members who have passed away
    • Height and weight (optional)
    • Medical conditions 
    • Life factors like smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.
    • Age of diagnosis of medical issue(s)

​After you have collected the necessary information, it is time to create the pedigree using Microsoft Word or a free online site like Progeny.  

Please note that Rasmussen support services like the Personal Support Center will not be able to assist you with sources found outside of Rasmussen.  Progeny has its own support available:​. 

  • Check out the "Creating your family health history" presentation, created by the NIH, linked below in the Links & Files section.
  • If you are using Microsoft Word to create the pedigree, YouTube has many helpful tutorials. Search for "genogram microsoft word".
  • For help using the SmartArt feature in Word, check out this Answer:


National Human Genome Research Institute. (n.d). Your family health history. Retrieved from: 

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