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Understanding Genomic Knowledge in Rural Appalachia: The West Virginia Genome Community Project.

Author information

1
Assistant Professor, WVU School of Nursing; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, WV Clinical & Translational Institute Scholar Alumni.
2
Associate Professor, WVU School of Nursing; Clinical Associate Professor, WVU School of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar Alumni, American Nurses Foundation Scholar.
3
Co-Chair, WV Prevention Research Center Community Partnership Board; Director of Rural Outreach, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
4
West Virginia University Prevention Research Center.
5
WV Prevention Research Center Community Partnership Board.
6
WV Prevention Research Center Community Partnership Board; Rural Coordinator, Institute for Community and Rural Health.
7
West Virginia University, School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology.
8
West Virginia University Public Health, West Virginia University Prevention Research Center.
9
Chief Scientific Officer CereDx, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar Alumni.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Rural communities have limited knowledge about genetics and genomics and are also underrepresented in genomic education initiatives. The purpose of this project was to assess genomic and epigenetic knowledge and beliefs in rural West Virginia.

SAMPLE:

A total of 93 participants from three communities participated in focus groups and 68 participants completed a demographic survey. The age of the respondents ranged from 21 to 81 years. Most respondents had a household income of less than $40,000, were female and most were married, completed at least a HS/GED or some college education working either part-time or full-time.

METHOD:

A Community Based Participatory Research process with focus groups and demographic questionnaires was used.

FINDINGS:

Most participants had a basic understanding of genetics and epigenetics, but not genomics. Participants reported not knowing much of their family history and that their elders did not discuss such information. If the conversations occurred, it was only during times of crisis or an illness event. Mental health and substance abuse are topics that are not discussed with family in this rural population.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most of the efforts surrounding genetic/genomic understanding have focused on urban populations. This project is the first of its kind in West Virginia and has begun to lay the much needed infrastructure for developing educational initiatives and extending genomic research projects into our rural Appalachian communities. By empowering the public with education, regarding the influential role genetics, genomics, and epigenetics have on their health, we can begin to tackle the complex task of initiating behavior changes that will promote the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

KEYWORDS:

Community Based Participatory Research; Focus groups; Genetics; Genomics; Rural

PMID:
27212895
PMCID:
PMC4871272

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