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FHH in Health Centers

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Project Success Story


Robert recently lost his job and has no health insurance. He went to the Daily Planet for a health screening and enrolled in the Diabetes Impact program. While waiting for his appointment he participated in the family health history survey with the health educator. He revealed to her that he has a strong family history of cancer and that his father had colon cancer. The health educator told Robert's physician, who then referred him for a colonoscopy. Robert was found to have adenocarcinoma of the colon and was immediately scheduled for surgery.

Read the Thank You Note from Robert


Family health history (FHH) is a non-invasive way to capture information about risk and is relatively inexpensive, with the primary cost being the clinician’s time. Genetic Alliance distributed six Family Health History Patient Education Toolkit: Health Center Program Awards to provide the foundation for an innovative, customizable strategy for integration of FHH into diverse health centers nationwide.

Project Goal:

To create and sustain family health history awareness and discussion in the healthcare setting among health center providers, staff, and patients.

Project Objectives:

  • To increase health center provider and staff awareness and knowledge about the use and importance of family history in practice across the lifespan
  • To promote use of the Does it Run in the Family? toolkit by health center providers and patients
  • To increase communication about FHH in health center provider-patient discussions
  • To improve health center provider/staff attitudes and satisfaction with integration of FHH into clinical practice
  • To identify challenges and facilitators to integration of the toolkit and FHH in health centers
  • To compare the effectiveness of strategies used by health centers to adapt the training and toolkit for integration into clinical practice

Project Timeframe:

Overall project: October 2010 – September 2012
Health center implementation: May 2011 – July 2012

Health Center Program Awards

Award Recipient State Project Summary, Customized Booklets & Final Reports
Comprehensive Community Health Centers, Inc. CA Disseminate the toolkit at annual physicals, health education sessions, and community outreach events. Patients and community members will receive a $10 incentive to bring the family health history materials to the clinic at their next visit.. English: [book 1] [book 2] * Spanish: [book 1] [book 2] Final Report [PDF]
Beaumont Cancer Genetics Program / Covenant Community Health Center MI Introduce the toolkit to new and returning patients at the clinic and in all outreach activities to educate patients on the importance of establishing a medical home. Special focus on the genetic basis of cancer. [book 1] [book 2] Final Report [PDF]
Daily Planet VA Promote the toolkit at several clinic sites and throughout the community through other organizations and health fairs. Virginia Commonwealth University nursing and health education students will assist patients and providers in gathering family health history. [book 1] Final Report [PDF]
Lana‘i Community Health Center HI Integrate the toolkit at all appointments with diabetes and cardiovascular disease patients, as well as WIC, family planning, prenatal, well woman and well man visits and into outreach and health education services during one-on-one appointments and community events. English: [book1] [book2] * Tagalog: [book 1] [book 2] * Ilocano: [book1] [book2] Final Report [PDF]
Madison County Community Health Centers, Inc. IN Disseminate the toolkit to all adult patients; to patients at diabetes, smoking cessation, and weight management classes; and patients and the public at monthly daylong events that emphasize particular health conditions. English: [book 1] [book 2] * Spanish: [book 1] [book 2] Final Report [PDF]
Siouxland Community Health Center IA Distribute the toolkit (customized in English and Spanish) to patients ages 20-64 during annual exam visits. English: [book 1] [book 2] * Spanish: [book 1] [book 2] Final Report [PDF]

Program Awardees were selected from proposals submitted in response to a Request for Applications released in February 2011.

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Train the Trainers

Project partners developed a two-hour training curriculum for health center staff and providers on FHH. Each center also received a training guide, which included additional resources on how to collect and document FHH, information on basic inheritance patterns, and additional pedigree exercises and case examples.

View the training slides.

Patient Surveys

Several health centers collected surveys from patients to elicit feedback on the toolkit, attitudes regarding the importance and relevance of FHH, experiences collecting information from their families, and effect on their relationship with their provider.

View some of their surveys here:

This project is supported by Health Resources and Services Administration contract No. HHSH250201000035C.

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