Consanguinity in Qatar: knowledge, attitude and practice in a population born between 1946 and 1991

J Biosoc Sci. 2010 Jan;42(1):59-82. doi: 10.1017/S002193200999023X. Epub 2009 Nov 9.


From March 2007 to March 2008 a cross-sectional study was conducted in Qatar to estimate the prevalence of consanguinity among Qataris and to assess their knowledge of the risks and their attitudes towards the practice. A secondary objective was to test the acceptability of sixteen Likert-style questions within the Qatari population. Face-to-face interviews using a 70-item structured questionnaire were conducted by three native Arabic-speaking medical students with 362 Qatari employees. Where consanguinity existed between the employee's parents, a diagram of the consanguinal relationship (phylogram) was completed. The response rate was 93%. By phylogram, 22% of participants reported a cousin relationship between their parents (consanguinal relationship) and another 15% reported that their parents were from the same tribe (affinal relationship). With respect to their own marital decision, 68% of the respondents had been married at least once. By phylogram, 35% of these reported a consanguineous relationship (first marriage), 9% reported only an affinal relationship and 56% reported that they were not married to a blood relative. Results on the sixteen Likert-style attitude questions were stratified by consanguinity status of parents and of self. In the stratification by consanguinity status of parents the top five attitudes differed by group but there appeared to be more similarity between the consanguinal and only tribal groups. Attitudinal results were stratified by sex. Results showed that the males had a stronger belief in several of the attitudes than females with the exception of causation of genetic abnormalities and health problems. The phylogram was shown to collect more detailed and explicit data than hard-coding. With respect to knowledge, the results showed that knowledge was imperfect with high proportions of participants not knowing that consanguinity has been implicated in autosomal recessive diseases such as thalassaemia, inborn errors of metabolism, deafness, anomalies of the extremities and specific congenital heart defects. Additionally, a sizeable proportion of the participants did not know that a more distant cousin marriage (e.g. third cousin) theoretically could be a less genetically risky choice to potential offspring than a closer cousin marriage (half-first cousin). These results indicate that more effort needs to be made in developing public health strategies to improve the population's understanding of the cost-benefit analysis involved in contracting consanguineous marriages given the goal of healthy offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Consanguinity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qatar
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Values
  • Young Adult