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J Am Board Fam Med. 2012 Jul-Aug;25(4):432-6. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2012.04.110259.

A national survey of hemochromatosis patients.

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Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a common genetic disease in the United States, but little is known about the diagnosis from the patient's perspective. The purpose of this study was to characterize the circumstances surrounding the diagnosis of HH and assess treatments and health information needs.


We surveyed US adults aged 18 years and older who were diagnosed with HH after 1996. Response rate was 46%, with a total sample size of 979. Respondents were asked about the use of genetic and clinical markers in their diagnosis, current treatments, and health information needs.


Results were stratified by age, education, and income status. Total of 90.0% of women and 75.5% of men were genetically tested for HH (P < .01). Approximately half (52.5%) were diagnosed by a gastroenterologist, hematologist, or other specialty physician and half were diagnosed by a primary care provider. Most of the respondents thought their HH had improved with the initial treatment and most patients were still receiving treatment for HH. Patient interest in learning more about specific hemochromatosis topics was generally high.


Since the introduction of genetic identification of HH, these tests have been used in the diagnosis of the majority of patients. Primary care physicians may need to be more aware HH and strategies for diagnosis.

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