Correlates of family health history discussions between college students and physicians: does family cancer history make a difference?
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Effective communication between young adults and their healthcare providers can contribute to early detection of risk for developing cancer and establishment of lifelong habits for engagement in healthcare and health promotion behaviors. Our objectives were to examine factors influencing family health history discussions between college students and physicians and factors associated with perceptions about who is responsible for initiating such discussions. Data from an internet-based study of 632 college students were analyzed. Approximately 60% of college student participants reported they had discussed their family health history with a physician. The perception that physicians are responsible for initiating family health history discussions was associated with being non-White and less than completely knowledgeable about cancer. Having a discussion with a physician was associated with being female, having a regular physician, perceiving genetics as a risk for developing cancer, and having a family member diagnosed with cancer. Understanding variation among college students' perceptions about their role in initiating health-history-related discussions and characteristics of those who have or have not discussed family health issues with physicians can inform healthcare practice to foster optimal healthcare interactions in early adulthood.