Family Health History–Based Interventions: A Systematic Review of the Literature


      National efforts have advocated for the need to deliver family health history–based interventions to the lay public for more than a decade. Yet, the numbers, characteristics, and outcomes of such interventions are unknown. This first-of-its-kind systematic literature review examines the characteristics and effectiveness of the existing family health history–based interventions.

      Evidence acquisition

      The research team systematically searched peer-reviewed articles published between January 2003 and July 2020 in MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Google Scholar.

      Evidence synthesis

      A total of 35 articles met the inclusion criteria. These studies assessed various behaviors, including family health history collection/communication with family members, family health history communication with healthcare providers, healthy diet adoption, physical activity level, uptake of medical screenings and genetic tests, and being proactive in healthcare matters. The average methodologic quality score of the studies was 9.9 (SD=1.6) of a theoretical range from 2 to 16.


      Many family health history–based interventions exist to examine a variety of behaviors. Yet, there is room for improvement in methodology because few studies used a randomized or quasi-experimental design. In addition, most included studies did not report objective or longer-term outcome data to examine the effectiveness of family health history–based interventions.
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