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Abstract

Aims

Patients with Type 2 diabetes may play a role as intermediary between medical professionals and at-risk relatives to promote diabetes prevention in their family. This study aimed to further our understanding of factors that influence the decisional process of familial risk disclosure in patients with diabetes.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, patients with Type 2 diabetes (n = 546) filled in a questionnaire assessing family risk perception, worry, personal beliefs regarding diabetes prevention, diabetes-related family communication, intention and perceived ability to inform relatives about familial risk of diabetes. Data were analysed using hierarchical logistic regression and multiple mediation analyses.

Results

Sixty per cent of the patients were willing to inform their relatives about familial diabetes risk; 61% reported high family risk perception and 41% had positive control beliefs with regard to preventive options in relatives. A majority (69%) did not express serious concern about relatives developing diabetes. Worry about relatives, knowing what to tell, whom to notify, and communication about diabetes in general appeared to facilitate family risk disclosure. Unexpectedly, high family risk perception in itself did not significantly increase patients’ intentions to inform relatives; rather, risk perception appeared to exert an indirect effect through worry and beliefs about diabetes prevention.

Conclusions

Worry in patients with diabetes appears to be a key factor in the process of family risk disclosure. When professionals guide their patients in this process, they should not only provide risk information, but also address worries and emphasize opportunities for diabetes prevention.