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.

Accuracy, Diabetes, Family history, Hypertension, Obesity, Self-report assessment
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.05.003, hdl.handle.net/1765/34777
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Janssens, A.C.J.W, Henneman, L, Detmar, S.B, Khoury, M.J, Steyerberg, E.W, Eijkemans, M.J.C, … Mackenbach, J.P. (2012). Accuracy of self-reported family history is strongly influenced by the accuracy of self-reported personal health status of relatives. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 65(1), 82–89. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.05.003