Integrating Genetics Into Primary Care: Family History Is Key

Lorie M. Vandenbusche, RN, MSN, FNP


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal 

In This Article

Family Health History and Public Health

Conveying the value of the family health history and its relationship to genetic susceptibility to the general public is essential. Upon recognizing the importance of family history for disease prevention and health promotion, the National Office of Public Health Genomics (NOPHG) launched the Family History Public Health Initiative in 2002. Thanksgiving Day 2003 was declared the first annual National Family History Day to encourage Americans to talk about and write down problems and illnesses that run in the family.

In 2004 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from 6000 surveys on health related attitudes and behaviors. The analysis indicated that 96.3% of survey respondents believe their family history is important to their health, even though few had actively collected information from family. This survey identified the need for continued public health efforts to help individuals collect their family health history information and share it with their providers.[10] The Office of the Surgeon General, in collaboration with agencies within the US Department of Health developed a tool, the "My Family Health Portrait" to assist families to record their family health information.[11]


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