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The Acquisition and Utility of the Family Medical History in Primary Care: A Cross-Sectional Study

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DOI: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.410086    4,143 Downloads   4,626 Views  

ABSTRACT

Background: Acquisition of family medical history (FMH) is emphasized as a part of obtaining a complete medical history, but whether FMH is consistently documented and utilized in primary care, as well as how it can affect patient care in this context, remains unclear. Thus, the objectives of this study were to determine: 1) if FMH is regularly acquired in a representative primary care practice (the Queen’s Family Health Team, QFHT); 2) what is included in the FMH obtained; 3) what the utility of FMH is with regards to patient management in primary care; and 4) to utilize healthcare practitioners’ perspectives in order to elucidate any findings regarding the acquisition and utility of FMH at the QFHT. Methods: Patients were interviewed in order to obtain their FMH. For each patient, the FMH obtained was compared to the FMH documented in the patient’s record to determine the record’s completeness. Each patient’s FMH was analyzed for significant history of coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes mellitus type II (DMII), substance abuse (SA) and colorectal cancer (CRC). Participants were patients scheduled for appointments at the QFHT between May and July 2011. Any patient of the QFHT older than 25 years was eligible to participate. Clinical staff of the QFHT completed an online questionnaire to determine healthcare practitioners’ perspectives regarding the acquisition and utility of FMH. Results: 83 patients participated in the study. Participants ranged in age from 25 - 86 years (median: 63 years); 69% were female. FMH present in patients’ records was often either incomplete (42% of charts reviewed) or not documented at all (51% of charts reviewed). Knowledge of FMH can affect patient management in primary care for the diseases assessed (CAD, DMII, SA and CRC). HCP do consider FMH to be important in clinical practice and 86% of respondents stated that they regularly inquired about patients’ FMH. Interpretation: Despite the belief by HCP that FMH is important, there is a disparity between this belief and their practices regarding its documentation and utilization. Finally, analysis of the FMH of the representative population studied shows that information commonly missing in patients’ FMH can affect patient management at a primary care level.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Abate, A. and Hall-Barber, K. (2014) The Acquisition and Utility of the Family Medical History in Primary Care: A Cross-Sectional Study. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 760-770. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.410086.

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