The Application of Computer‐Based Tools in Obtaining the Genetic Family History
Family health history is both an adjunct to and a focus of current genetic research, having long been known to be a powerful predictor of individual disease risk. As such, it has been primarily used as a proxy for genetic information. Over the past decade, new roles for family history have emerged, perhaps most importantly as a primary tool for guiding decision-making on the use of expensive genetic testing. The collection of family history information is an important but time-consuming process. Efforts to engage the patient or research subject in preliminary data collection have the potential to improve data accuracy and allow clinicians and researchers more time for analytic tasks. The U.S. Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others have developed tools for electronic family history collection. This unit describes the utility of the Web-based My Family Health Portrait (https://familyhistory.hhs.gov) as the prototype for patient-entered family history. Curr. Protoc. Hum. Genet. 66:9.21.1-9.21.9 © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Keywords: family history; pedigree; risk assessment; genetic medicine
Figure 9.21.1 The My Family Health Portrait home page accessed at https://familyhistory.hhs.gov.
Figure 9.21.2 Form for entering personal health information.
Figure 9.21.3 Building the family history. Adding the number of immediate family members is the first step.
Figure 9.21.4 Family history in diagram report format.
Figure 9.21.5 Family history in chart report format.
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The authors of this paper highlight that while we are at the dawn of the genomic era, advanced technologies will never replace a properly obtained and analyzed family health history.
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The Preventive Services Task force developed threshold criteria to assist providers in determining which patients should be categorized as high risk and should be considered as candidates for further genetic testing.
My Family Health Portrait. A Web-based tool that allows users to enter, save, print, and share their family health history.
BWH Family History Page. The Brigham and Women's Hospital conducted a Family History Project, encouraging all employees to utilize My Family Health Portrait as a method for gathering and recording their family health information. The Project succeeded in encouraging one-third of all employees to gather this information and share it with the healthcare provider. A project report can be found at this Web site.