What you don't know: Improving family health history knowledge among multigenerational families of Mexican origin

Andrea F. Goergen, Sato Ashida, Kaley Skapinsky, Hendrik D. De Heer, Anna V. Wilkinson, Laura M. Koehly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: This study investigated diabetes and heart disease family health history (FHH) knowledge and changes after providing personalized disease risk feedback. Methods: A total of 497 adults from 162 families of Mexican origin were randomized by household to conditions based on feedback recipient and content. Each provided personal and relatives' diabetes and heart disease diagnoses and received feedback materials following baseline assessment. Multivariate models were fitted to identify factors associated with the rate of 'don't know' FHH responses. Results: At baseline, US nativity was associated with a higher 'don't know' response rate (p = 0.002). Though confounded by country of birth, younger age showed a trend toward higher 'don't know' response rates. Overall, average 'don't know' response rates dropped from 20 to 15% following receipt of feedback (p < 0.001). An intervention effect was noted, as 'don't know' response rates decreased more in households where one family member (vs. all) received supplementary risk assessments (without behavioral recommendations; p = 0.011). Conclusions: Limited FHH knowledge was noted among those born in the US and younger participants, representing a key population to reach with intervention efforts. The intervention effect suggests that 'less is more', indicating the potential for too much information to limit health education program effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Genomics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Diabetes
  • Family health history
  • Heart disease
  • Mexican-Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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