230459 College students perceived risk for chronic health conditions: Associations of discussing family health history with genetic and behavioral factors

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Erica T. Sosa, PhD , Health & Kinesiology, University of Texas - San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES , School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, TX
E. Lisako J. McKyer, PhD, MPH , Department of Health & Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH , Social & Behavioral Health, Texas A&M HSC School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX
Risk factors attributed to chronic disease are influenced by genetics and lifestyle behaviors. Although the development of such conditions may begin in early adolescence, understanding the potential risks may prevent such illness. The purpose of this study is to investigate the family health history behaviors of college students and their associated perceptions of chronic disease. Students' perceptions regarding heart disease, diabetes and obesity were assessed using a cross-sectional internet-based survey of 647 college students from a large Southwestern university. Chi-square analyses and t-tests were employed to examine the family health history behaviors among college students and their perceptions regarding risk, severity and risk factors of the conditions. Over 60% of participants reported having discussed their family health history with a family member. Results indicate females were more likely than males to engage in discussion with family members regarding their family health history (X2 = 13.07, p<.01). Students who engaged in discussions regarding family health history rated behavioral and genetic factors as more influential than did their peers - on average, behavioral factors were seen as more influential for heart disease (t=-2.537, p<.05), diabetes (t=-3.063, p<.01), and obesity (t=-3.407, p<.01). Genetic factors for heart disease were also perceived as significantly more important among students who discuss family health history (t=-2.850, p<.01). The interrelated nature of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity yield similar perceptions of risk among college students; however, discussion about chronic illness with family members has potential to raise awareness of the potential risks and importance for early disease screening.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify factors contributing to college studentsí perceived risk factors for chronic disease. 2. Identify factors influencing studentís obtainment of their family health histories. 3. Describe implications for encouraging college students to obtain their family health history.

Keywords: Health Behavior, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I research health behavior associated with chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, obesity).
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.