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J Clin Epidemiol. 2012 Jan;65(1):82-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.05.003. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Accuracy of self-reported family history is strongly influenced by the accuracy of self-reported personal health status of relatives.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, 3015 GE Rotterdam, The Netherlands. a.janssens@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We investigated the accuracy of self-reported family history for diabetes, hypertension, and overweight against two reference standards: family history based on physician-assessed health status of relatives and on self-reported personal health status of relatives.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING:

Subjects were participants from the Erasmus Rucphen Family study, an extended family study among descendants of 20 couples who lived between 1850 and 1900 in a southwest region of the Netherlands and their relatives (n=1,713). Sensitivity and specificity of self-reported family history were calculated.

RESULTS:

Sensitivity of self-reported family history was 89.2% for diabetes, 92.2% for hypertension, and 78.4% for overweight when family history based on relatives' self-reported personal health status was used as reference and 70.8% for diabetes, 67.4% for hypertension, and 77.3% for overweight when physician-assessed health status of relatives was used. Sensitivity and specificity of self-reported personal health status were 76.8% and 98.8% for diabetes, 38.9% and 98.0% for hypertension, and 80.9% and 75.7% for overweight, respectively.

CONCLUSION:

The accuracy of self-reported family history of diabetes and hypertension is strongly influenced by the accuracy of self-reported personal health status of relatives. Raising awareness of personal health status is crucial to ensure the utility of family history for the assessment of risk and disease prevention.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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