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Family Health History in Primary Care and Public Health

Originally presented on March 18, 2010

Howard P. Levy, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Clinical Director, Johns Hopkins Internal Medicine at Green Spring Station

Michael Stehney, MD, MPH
Director, Family Medicine Residency Program, Middlesex Hospital

For several years, the Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait” tool has been available to the public, and individuals and families have been encouraged to discuss their family health histories at family reunions and Thanksgiving celebrations. The expectation is that knowledge about family health history will inform risk assessment and serve as the basis for offering patients appropriately tailored preventive interventions such as diet, exercise or other lifestyle changes, education about signs and symptoms to facilitate earlier recognition of disease, alternative screening protocols, and, if appropriate, prophylactic pharmaceutical or surgical interventions. In the face of direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests, medical and public health professionals must understand why family history is important in the assessment of chronic disease risk, what tools are available to assess family health history information and how to incorporate family health history tools and information into chronic disease prevention initiatives.

Program Objectives
After watching this broadcast participants will be able to:

  • Describe the role/relevance of family health history in the prevention and control of chronic disease.
  • Explain how to use the Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait” instrument.
  • Describe the use of family health history in the assessment and management of chronic disease.