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Keywords:

  • family history;
  • pedigree;
  • family history data;
  • Family History Initiative;
  • family history tools

Primary care providers are in an ideal position to practice genomic-based medicine. Family history data can be used to assess reproductive risks or determine an individual's risk for developing specific diseases. The US Department of Health and Human Services has recently launched the US Surgeon General's Family History Initiative, a national public health campaign designed to encourage Americans to learn more about their family health histories. Furthermore, several national associations now recommend that primary care providers collect family history data to identify patients at risk for these diseases. Ideally, family history data should be ascertained, documented, and analyzed in a standardized manner. Graphic representation of a family history in the form of a pedigree may be preferable to a text format, but further research will clarify this issue. Family history tools are now being developed and studied to identify which methods are most beneficial in different clinical settings.