257223 Family health history communication patterns among older adults: Importance of perceptions and disease experience

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sato Ashida, PhD , Community & Behavioral Health, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA
Ellen Schafer, MPH , Community & Behavioral Health, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA
Kimberly Kaphingst, ScD , Department of Surgery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Melody S. Goodman, PhD , Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Larita Webb, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
Older individuals play a critical role in disseminating family health history (FHH) that can facilitate disease prevention among younger generations. Understanding communication networks of older adults will inform public health strategies to facilitate FHH dissemination within families. A total of 1,058 social network members were enumerated by 110 seniors (ages 60 and older) at 3 senior centers in Memphis, TN, through face-to-face interviews. A two-level logistic regression model was built to identify participant and network member characteristics associated with communication of FHH.

Participants told information about diagnoses of family members to 319 (30%) network members; 53% of enumerated children and 29% of enumerated siblings. Participants' communication partners were less likely to be older-generation (OR=0.19) and more likely to be younger-generation (OR=2.34) family members than same-generation, and were those to whom respondents provided emotional support (OR=1.75) and felt close to (OR=1.83). Members who were told about FHH were more likely to be in the networks of participants who had ever been diagnosed with cancer (OR=2.18), and had higher perceived familiarity with (OR=1.39) and importance of sharing FHH with family (OR=1.36).

Seniors are more likely to communicate FHH with younger familial network members and those to whom they feel close and provide support. However, about half of children and two-third of siblings did not receive FHH information suggesting the need to further facilitate FHH dissemination among seniors. Perceptions about familiarity with and importance of sharing FHH and experience with illness may play roles in whether seniors communicate FHH with their families.

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

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Identify individual and relationship characteristics associated with communication of family health history among older adults. 2. Explain the association between perceptions about family health history (e.g., familiarity and importance) associated with older adultsí communication of FHH. 3. Discuss potential strategies to facilitate intergenerational dissemination of family health history within families.

Keywords: Communication, Family Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published several articles in the area of public health genomics, and one of my research focus is to understand strategies to facilitate dissemination of family health history within families.
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.