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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2009 Aug;20(3):678-94. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0191.

Family health history and health behaviors in Alaska native and American Indian people.

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  • 1University of Utah, Department of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.



Family history of diseases among American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people may influence health.


We examine the prevalence of family health history among a cohort of AIAN people (n= 10,374) enrolled in the Education and Research Towards Health (EARTH) Study. We evaluate the association between having a positive family history and health behaviors to determine if those reporting a family history were more likely to report lifestyles that put them at risk of developing these health conditions.


Among participants, 17.7% reported not knowing their family history and 23.5% preferred not to answer the family history component of the questionnaire. Eight percent of participants reported a family history of colorectal cancer, 7.9% a family history of breast cancer, 25.8% a family history of heart attack, and 46.7% a family history of diabetes. Obesity, physical activity, cholesterol, and perceived health were associated with family history.


Individuals with a family history of diseases may have lifestyles that influence their disease risk.

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