Family history intake: A challenge to personalized approaches in health promotion and disease prevention

Ronit Endevelt, Iris Goren, Tal Sela, Varda Shalev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Family history is considered an essential, obligatory part of the primary physician's intake interview. Including coded FH in a unified medical file can save expensive genetic tests and detect the early onset of diseases in young people who are not recommended to be screened routinely. The objectives of this study are to explore the frequency and point in time of recording the coded family history (FH) as a first step to increasing awareness of the importance of such information. Methods: All ICD-9 coded diagnoses of familial histories of disease (ICD-9 coded V16.0 - V19.8), including diseases related to gender, age, and indications of chronic diseases, were collected from the electronic medical records of patients ages 18 and above in Israel's Maccabi Health Care system. The study was carried out in 2012 on the basis of coded data for 1.9 million Maccabi members, which were collected from 2004 through 2011. Results: Of the Maccabi members (the second biggest HMO in Israel covering 2 million people), only 10 % had FH coded documentation. FH was significantly more frequent for females than for males (13.5 % vise 10.1 %) and increased with age. About 10 % of the FH documentation occurred before any disease was diagnosed. The most frequent FH documentation was observed for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. In the case of cancer FH was more frequent in females, whereas in the case of males it was cardiovascular disease. Discussion: Family history is an easy tool and need to be coded and implimented in most visits in order to get the best information of the potential health and disease of the patients. Conclusions: FH frequency is very low and varies with gender and age. The literature suggests that implementing it routinely in primary care will improve health care. Further research is needed to identify the factors that impede primary care givers from complying with FH guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Endevelt et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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