196572 Community empowerment for public health: The role of family health history

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:30 AM

James C. O'Leary, BS , Genetic Alliance, Washington, DC
Vaughn T. Edelson , Genetic Alliance, Washington, DC
Nicora R. Gardner, MSW , National Psoriasis Foundation, Portland, OR
Alejandra J. Gepp, MA , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of la Raza, Washington, DC
Penny Kyler, ScD, OTR, FAOTA , Genetics Services Branch, MCHB, HRSA/DHHS, Rockville, MD
Penelope J. Moore, PhD , Department of Social Work, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY
Karen O'Quinn , The Health Wagon, Clinchco, VA
Claudia L. Petruccio , Institute for Cultural Partnerships, Harrisburg, PA
Sharon F. Terry, MA, LHD , Genetic Alliance, Washington, DC
Deborah Bowen, PhD , Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Promotion of the importance of family health history knowledge can be a useful public health strategy for disease prevention. Indeed, FHH can be more predictive of diseases than genetic variants. Yet, there has been little study of whether FHH tools used by individuals, families, and communities inspire measurable changes in behavior and communication, within the family or with a provider. The HRSA-funded Community Centered Family Health History models how accessible tools produced by the community, for the community, promote conversations among family members about health and translate knowledge of FHH into healthy lifestyle choices. Genetic Alliance worked with seven communities to customize and measure the utility of the Does It Run In the Family? toolkit. Partners recruited 25+ families (two or more blood relatives) to use the toolkit for three months by discussing with family members and considering the implications of gained information. Before and after using the toolkit, participants completed surveys measuring family communication about FHH, disease risk and the use of FHH information in provider interactions. Family members used the tool with each other and with family members not enrolled in the survey cohort. From pre to post toolkit use participants showed positive changes in communicating about family history of disease risk (p<0.01) and in communicating with providers about health risk (p<0.05). Empowering the participant to be the steward of his or her own FHH information facilitates the job of healthcare providers and creates an informed public capable of and comfortable with dialoguing around genetics and health.

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the value of using a tool, specifically the Does It Run In the Family? toolkit, to facilitate conversations about health within the family and with a healthcare provider. 2. Discuss the public health benefits of promoting knowledge of family health history. 3. Explain the importance of accessible tools produced by the community, for the community, in translating knowledge of family health history into healthy choices.

Keywords: Health Behavior, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee a grant from HRSA coordinating 20 community partners across the country working on family health history initiatives. I am on the planning committee for the State of the Science meeting on Family Health History in summer 09 and have presented at multiple meetings, conferences, and other forums on FHH and its significance in community engagement, disease prevention, and general public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.