Pilot Trial of an Electronic Family Medical History in US Faith-Based Communities
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In spite of the acknowledged importance of collecting family health information, methods of collecting, organizing, and storage of pedigree data are not uniformly utilized in practice, though several electronic tools have been developed for the purpose. Using electronic tools to gather health information may empower individuals to take responsibility in managing their family health history. The purpose of this study was to describe the feasibility and outcomes of introducing small groups to the My Family Health Portrait tool in faith-based communities using faith community nurses (FCNs). This pilot project adopted a mixed methods approach to assess the potential of an educational intervention delivered by FCNs for increasing the use of electronic technologies for organizing and storing family health histories among the general public. Treatment and control groups were recruited from four faith-based communities in north Texas using a parallel-groups quasi-experimental design. Qualitative data were gleaned from field notes made by investigators interacting with FCNs and observing their teaching. A majority of respondents believed that knowing one’s health history and passing it on to family and medical personnel is important. Those receiving face-to-face instruction on the electronic tool were significantly more likely to have written down family health information than the control group who received only an informational handout (χ2 = 5.96, P = .015). Barriers to teaching about and using the electronic tool included FCNs’ lack of facility with computers in the educational context and FCN and respondent mistrust of electronic storage for family health information.
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