It's connected to a scientific paper for a public health topic. I need to name a patient's surrounding of caregivers which can include family members, friends, close relatives.

I came up with a term 'immediate environment'.

Can anyone natively speaking English or knowing scientific nomenclature comment does such term makes sense, don't hesitate to propose other.


a patient's surrounding of caregivers

If you are specifically referring to people among the patient's friends and family who might be expected to care for the patient's physical needs, then who they would be could vary; so you might want to say "potential caregivers".

  • 1
    Since this is an English language forum it is my duty to inform you that "a patient's surrounding of caregivers" is a totally non-English expression. – fdb Nov 30 '14 at 22:48
  • 2
    @fdb: Since this is an online forum, it is my duty to inform you that quoting a snippet of the OP's question does not constitute an endorsement. – TRomano Nov 30 '14 at 22:53
  • 1
    Fair enough.... – fdb Nov 30 '14 at 23:02
  • Never heard of this phrase "potential caregivers". It sound more like people you hired (nurses or social workers or volunteers) to tend to patient. – Ubi hatt Nov 23 '20 at 4:31

You can probably use "support network" - I think people use it often now to mean their friends and family. (USA)

  • 2
    Social Circle ? – Alan Campbell Nov 30 '14 at 7:02
  • 1
    INNER circle, is more common. – Oldbag Nov 30 '14 at 13:29
  • 3
    For a public health topic, this is probably the best choice (at least in the N. American context). Note, however, that "support network" is broader than "caregivers" or even "potential caregivers". The support network includes friends and relations who may be unable to offer physical or continuing care, but who offer emotional support and/or regularly check in on the patient's status. – AmeliaBR Nov 30 '14 at 16:17

Kith and Kin


both friends and family

Meriam Webster:

friends and kindred

If you prefer to sound less medieval, friends and relations would probably do,

  • I guess, friends and relatives would sound more natural. – Ubi hatt Nov 23 '20 at 4:36

I think you could talk of someone's "immediate circle". Perhaps the first time you introduce the phrase in your document, you could say "immediate circle of family and friends" and thereafter use the shorter form.

The sense of this is narrower than Friends and Family. After all - that would include people that you might not be very close to. However, it does include people who might not be seen as being in one's "Support Network", such as a brother or sister who does not actively care for the person. It excludes some other people who might be in a support network, such as the patient's social worker.


Can it be three words? "Friends and family" is perfect. "Kith and kin" sounds a bit bookish. "Support network" is socio-babble.

  • It's a science paper so "socio-babble" is the best fit. – Oldbag Nov 30 '14 at 13:31

It depends on the type of science you do : a human science like economic or business administration or an empiric science like physic or chemistry. In the heath care system in Canada they almost adopted the word : client. You can use : extended family and friends.


Next of Kin - if you look at CERNER and other medical software this is what they would be stored as and there can be more than one.

  • 2
    Next of kin is a specific legal concept, indicating who has a right to make decisions about the patient if the patient becomes incapacitated. It may be much narrower, or completely distinct from, the group of people who offer care and support. – AmeliaBR Nov 30 '14 at 16:19
  • "Next of kin" is a completely separate concept from what the OP is looking for - my lack of 125 rep has saved you from a downvote. – R160K Dec 1 '14 at 8:17

New Zealand's health system refers to this as whānau, a Māori concept of extended family and friends. You'd expect members of a person's whānau to be part of their care.

It's a Māori word, but completely accepted in New Zealand English.

This won't help you for this specific instance, but others interested in the topic may be interested.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.