Applying theory to characterize impediments to dissemination of community-facing family health history tools: a review of the literature

Caitlin G. Allen*, Debra Duquette, Yue Guan, Colleen M. McBride

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Uptake of community-facing family health history (FHH) tools to identify those at highest risk of disease and target prevention efforts has been consistently low. This review uses the diffusion of innovations (DOI) as a framework to organize the FHH evidence base and identify potential strategies to improve uptake of community-facing FHH tools. Methods for this literature review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. We completed systematic searches in PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases for studies from 2009 to 2017 and hand searched bibliographies of relevant literature to identify additional articles. We abstracted and synthesized results, which were then organized by the DOI including the innovation–decision making process and characteristics of the innovation likely to influence diffusion (e.g., compatibility, relative advantage, complexity, trialability, observa/bility). Of the 290 unique articles identified, 65 were eligible for full-text review after title and abstract screening; a total of 27 were included in the final abstraction. Eleven unique tools were identified. The most commonly used tool was the Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait (n =9/27). Only six studies directly evaluated participant perceptions shown to be associated with tool uptake. Studies tended to focus on improving compatibility by customizing tools to the target population’s needs and use of educational interventions. Results from this review suggest the need to evaluate strategies to increase the pace of uptake of community-facing FHH tools. These include pragmatic trials that compare different approaches to engage and evaluate participant perceptions of the relative advantage and complexity of tools. Ancillary support strategies may include collaborations with community networks to facilitate use and implementation study designs for rigorous evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-159
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Genetics(clinical)


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