Despite medical and technological advances, cancer health disparities continue to occur in prevention, diagnosis, and outcomes. Family health history (FH) is among the strongest known predictors of cancer (CA) and is the most powerful, publicly accessible screen for genetic CA risk. To fill the gap in practical interventions for necessary family communication, we propose to develop and evaluate a clinically integrated intervention to improve patient-family communication about CA risk and prevention. Using the Kin Fact Program (Keeping Information about Family Cancer Tune-up Program), a research assistant (RA) will work 1-on-1 with 245 adult women, recruited over the course of 2 years from annual gynecology visits at the VCU Women's Health Clinic within a randomized trial. The RA will help participants draw a family tree, identify biological kin, and document information about biological family who have had breast cancer (BC) or colon cancer (CC). In this 20-30 minute session, the assistant will: (a) provide risk information and appropriate health recommendations;(b) identify family information needed to complete the FH;(c) coach woman in communication skills to obtain information, and (d) develop, with her, a plan for collection and follow-up on this data gathering. Another 245 women randomized to the control arm will receive standard care. We will test for differences between the intervention and control groups on the primary outcome of family communication about CA. We will also assess the intervention impact on CA-related genetic knowledge and risk-reduction behaviors at 1, 6, and 14 months after the intervention, using written baseline surveys and structured follow-up phone interviews. About 45% of the VCU Women's Health Clinic patients are African-American and about 1/3 are under-insured. By integrating the model within an urban women's health safety-net clinic, this project addresses cancer control and prevention research challenges of racial diversity, inclusive practices, and clinical translation. Our long-term objectives are to: improve public health, specifically related to BC and CC, by maximizing genetic risk assessment through FH collection and communication, eliminate disparities in who benefits from familial risk information, and identify successful methods for enabling women to be effective FH and cancer prevention communicators.
Specific aims : 1. Assess the effect of the Kin Fact program on communication about FH of BCs and CCs. We will investigate race/ethnicity and education as effect modifiers. 2. Assess change differences (intervention vs. control) in reported family communication contexts and their mediator effects on communication outcomes. 3. Assess change differences (intervention vs. control) in critical knowledge about CA-related genetic information (knowledge of the genetic component to cancer, in general and also their specific individual risks and capacity to identify resources). 4. As a secondary aim we will examine health behavior differences (intervention vs. control) (e.g. clinical breast exams, mammograms, colonoscopy, USPSTF practices, etc.) for the subset of participants to whom these screening behaviors apply.

Public Health Relevance

Twenty-first century public health approaches to cancer prevention and control need to incorporate genetic information, family health history being the most accessible. The higher death rates from all cancers in African Americans compared to Caucasians demand efforts to explore disparities in family understanding of cancer risk. It is critical to understand ways to improve communication about cancer risk and prevention among family members through accessible interventions in women's primary care, and to ensure the interventions are equitably effective.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Human Genetics Study Section (ELS)
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Hesse, Bradford
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Virginia Commonwealth University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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