Factors influencing consultation to discuss family history of cancer by asymptomatic patients in primary care

Jennifer N.W. Lim, Jenny Hewison, Carol E. Chu, Hamdan Al-Habsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Patient self-initiated consultations to discuss family history of cancer in primary care and the factors leading to these consultations have not been investigated. Seventy-one out of 150 asymptomatic patients with a family history of cancer at the Yorkshire Cancer Genetics Service participated in this study. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered. The results show that (1) family cancer events, doctors' advice and reaching the age of cancer-affected relatives were more salient in raising awareness of the added cancer risk due to family history than media and publicity, and knowledge of the genetics services; (2) knowledge of family medical history and its clinical value is not easy to ascertain; (3) the interrelationships with other causal beliefs are of interest and could provide insights to understand the factors motivating patients to discuss family history or cancer risk; (4) the belief that 'cancer runs in the family' or is 'a family thing' may not be sufficient to heighten perceived cancer risk and motivate patients to seek medical advice; and (5) understanding of the medical concept and clinical value of family history is poor even in this group of patients who initiated the GP consultations. In conclusion, because most primary care practitioners are likely to rely on patient initiated discussion to identify individuals at an increased risk of cancer because of their family history, these findings are therefore important to help doctors and health providers understand the reasons influencing asymptomatic patients to self-refer themselves in primary care and discuss cancer risk in order to provide appropriate care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Asymptomatic patients
  • Family history of cancer
  • Perceived familial risk
  • Primary care
  • Self-initiated consultation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Genetics(clinical)


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