, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 127-135

Iona College Community Centered Family Health History Project: Lessons Learned from Student Focus Groups

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The Community Centered Family Health History project was initiated to create accessible family health history tools produced by and for the community. The project goal was to promote increased community engagement in health education by encouraging conversations among family members that would translate knowledge of family health history into healthy lifestyle choices. As one of seven community partners, Iona College participated in customizing and beta-testing the Does It Run in the Family? toolkit. Twenty-nine college students were engaged to recruit three relatives related by blood to provide feedback on the utility of the toolkit. The toolkit consists of two booklets—“A Guide to Family Health History” and “A Guide to Understanding Genetics and Health”—explaining the importance of knowing and talking about health within the family as well as basics about how conditions are passed down through generations. Twenty-two of the twenty-nine students participated in focus groups to discuss their reactions to participation in the project. Students in the focus group reported that the study participants—students and their family members—found the toolkit to be user friendly and the experience a valuable one that prompted many to take positive steps toward good health.