Community-Based Family Health History Education: The Role of State Health Agencies in Engaging Medically Underserved Populations in Understanding Genomics and Risk of Chronic Disease

Healthcare (Basel). 2015 Oct 21;3(4):995-1017. doi: 10.3390/healthcare3040995.


Although family health history (FHH) collection has been recognized as an influential method for assessing a person's risk of chronic disease, studies have shown that people who are low-income, from racial and ethnic minorities, and poorly educated are less likely to collect their FHH or share it with a medical professional. Programs to raise public awareness about the importance of FHH have conventionally targeted patients in primary care clinics or in the general community, but few efforts have been made to coordinate educational efforts across settings. This paper describes a project by the Connecticut Department of Public Health's Genomics Office to disseminate training materials about FHH as broadly as possible, by engaging partners in multiple settings: a local health department, a community health center, and two advocacy organizations that serve minority and immigrant populations. We used a mixed methods program evaluation to examine the efficacy of the FHH program and to assess barriers in integrating it into the groups' regular programming. Our findings highlight how a state health department can promote FHH education among underserved communities.

Keywords: chronic disease prevention; family history; genomics; program evaluation; public health; state health agencies.