Purpose: To identify characteristics of physicians, patients, and visits associated with obtaining family history information in community family practice.
Methods: Research nurses directly observed 4,454 patient visits to 138 family physicians and reviewed office medical records.
Results: Family history was discussed during 51% of visits by new patients and 22% of visits by established patients. Physicians' rates of family history-taking varied from 0% to 81% of visits. Family history was more often discussed at well care rather than illness visits. The average duration of family history discussions was <2.5 minutes.
Conclusions: These data can form the basis for realistic interventions to increase the use of family history in primary care.