Familial Risk for Common Diseases in Primary Care. The Family Healthware™ Impact Trial

Suzanne M. O'Neill*, Wendy S. Rubinstein, Catharine Wang, Paula W. Yoon, Louise S. Acheson, Nan Rothrock, Erin J. Starzyk, Jennifer L. Beaumont, James M. Galliher, Mack T. Ruffin IV

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Context: Family history is a risk factor for many common chronic diseases, yet it remains underutilized in primary care practice. Background: Family Healthware™ is a self-administered, web-based tool that assesses familial risk for CHD; stroke; diabetes; and colorectal, breast, and ovarian cancer, and provides a personalized prevention plan based on familial risk. The Family Healthware Impact Trial evaluated the tool. Design: In this cluster RCT, participants completed baseline and 6-month follow-up surveys. The intervention group used Family Healthware directly after the baseline survey. Controls used the tool after completing the follow-up survey. Setting/participants: Patients aged 35-65 years with no known diagnosis of these six diseases were enrolled from 41 primary care practices. Main outcome measures: The prevalence of family-history-based risk for coronary heart disease (CHD); stroke; diabetes; and colorectal, breast, and ovarian cancer was determined in a primary care population. Results: From 2005 to 2007, 3786 participants enrolled. Data analysis was undertaken from September 2007 to March 2008. Participants had a mean age of 50.6 years and were primarily white (91%) women (70%). Of the 3585 participants who completed the risk assessment tool, 82% had a strong or moderate familial risk for at least one of the diseases: CHD (strong=33%, moderate=26%); stroke (strong=15%, moderate=34%); diabetes (strong=11%, moderate=26%); colorectal cancer (strong=3%, moderate=11%); breast cancer (strong=10%, moderate=12%); and ovarian cancer (strong=4%, moderate=6%). Women had a significantly (p<0.04) higher familial risk than men for all diseases except colorectal and ovarian cancer. Overweight participants were significantly (p≤0.02) more likely to have a strong family history for CHD, stroke, and diabetes. Older participants were significantly (p≤0.02) more likely to report a strong family history for CHD and stroke as well as colorectal and breast cancer. Conclusions: This self-administered, online tool delineated a substantial burden of family-history-based risk for these chronic diseases in an adult, primary care population. Trial registration: NCT00164658.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-514
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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