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OBJECTIVE: We investigated the accuracy of self-reported family history for diabetes, hypertension, and overweight against two reference standards: family history based on physician-assessed health status of relatives and on self-reported personal health status of relatives. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: Subjects were participants from the Erasmus Rucphen Family study, an extended family study among descendants of 20 couples who lived between 1850 and 1900 in a southwest region of the Netherlands and their relatives (n=1,713). Sensitivity and specificity of self-reported family history were calculated. RESULTS: Sensitivity of self-reported family history was 89.2% for diabetes, 92.2% for hypertension, and 78.4% for overweight when family history based on relatives' self-reported personal health status was used as reference and 70.8% for diabetes, 67.4% for hypertension, and 77.3% for overweight when physician-assessed health status of relatives was used. Sensitivity and specificity of self-reported personal health status were 76.8% and 98.8% for diabetes, 38.9% and 98.0% for hypertension, and 80.9% and 75.7% for overweight, respectively. CONCLUSION: The accuracy of self-reported family history of diabetes and hypertension is strongly influenced by the accuracy of self-reported personal health status of relatives. Raising awareness of personal health status is crucial to ensure the utility of family history for the assessment of risk and disease prevention.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.05.003

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of clinical epidemiology

Publication Date

01/2012

Volume

65

Pages

82 - 89

Addresses

Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, 3015 GE Rotterdam, The Netherlands. a.janssens@erasmusmc.nl

Keywords

Humans, Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Medical History Taking, Body Mass Index, Data Collection, Health Surveys, Risk Factors, Sensitivity and Specificity, Family, Health Status, Algorithms, Middle Aged, Netherlands, Female, Male, Overweight, Self Report