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The Effect of Chronic Disease Family History on Healthcare Provider Practice and Patient Behavior among Oregonians

Zlot A.I.a · Cox S.L.a · Silvey K.a, c · Leman R.b
aOregon Genetics Program and bOffice of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology, Public Health Division, Oregon Health Authority, and cOregon Health and Science University, Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Needs, Portland, Oreg., USA Public Health Genomics 2012;15:189–200 (DOI:10.1159/000335555)


Family history is an independent risk factor for many chronic conditions. Therefore, efforts to prevent these diseases among asymptomatic people at high familial risk are justified to reduce the health burden of these chronic conditions. We analyzed 2006–2009 Oregon Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to examine associations between family history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), colorectal cancer (CRC), breast cancer (BC), and: (1) patient-reported clinician recommendations, (2) adoption of preventive and screening behaviors, and (3) chronic disease risk factors among respondents without a personal history of the condition. A positive family history was associated with a higher likelihood of reported discussion by clinicians of CRC and BC screening and a greater likelihood of respondents having cholesterol and CRC screening. The combination of family history and clinician recommendations significantly increased the odds of CRC and BC screening compared to family history alone. A positive family history was also associated with respondents reporting lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes, CVD, and CRC, but not BC. Awareness of family history prompts clinicians to recommend screening and may motivate patients to be screened. Understanding positive family history may also motivate patients to adopt healthy lifestyles.


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