Date of Conferral





Public Health


Vasileios Margaritis


Chronic diseases are a significant cause of illness and mortality in the United States. Hereditary predisposition to chronic diseases is a useful indicator for identifying people at risk for disease development. An ideal tool for determining this predisposition is the CDC, NIH, and AAFP recommended third-degree family health history (FHH). The aim of this quantitative, cross-sectional study, based on the theoretical frameworks of social constructivism and the health belief model, was to assess the possible influence between the completed third-degree FHH and the participant's perception of disease risk. Two-hundred seventy-three participants were recruited from health care facilities and from the general population using convenience sampling. Bivariate and multivariate tests were applied to analyze the obtained data. Binary regression indicated a statistically significant association between the presence of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, ovarian/cervical cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and diabetes, and the perception of risk for the particular disease as noted in the FHH. A familial history of stroke appeared to be the strongest predictor of perception of disease risk. Moreover, increasing age, particularly within the age range of 40 to 57, was associated with increasing levels of perception of disease risk for heart disease, stroke, and prostate cancer. Individuals from the general population significantly indicated higher-than-average risk for colon cancer compared to those from health care facilities. Social change implication of this study may be the widespread implementation of a familial health history questionnaire that leads to an impactful, higher degree of disease risk awareness, prompting preventive action on the part of the individual, and leading to improved individual and population health.