Family history of diabetes: exploring perceptions of people at risk in the Netherlands

M. Pijl, L. Henneman, E.A.M. Claassen, S.B. Detmar, M.G.A.A.M. Nijpels, D.R.M. Timmermans

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INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of causes, risk, and control with regard to diabetes and the role of family history among people at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted among people aged 57 to 72 years with (n = 9) and without (n = 12) a family history of diabetes. RESULTS: Participants mentioned different causes for diabetes; these were often a combination of genetic and behavioral factors. Some participants with a family history expressed incoherent causal beliefs; their general ideas about the causes of diabetes did not explain why their relatives were affected. The role of genetics as a cause for diabetes was more pronounced when people perceived diabetes as "running in the family," and this finding did not necessarily relate to a high number of affected relatives. Although people with a family history were aware of the diabetes in their family, they did not always associate their family history with increased risk, nor did they worry about getting diabetes. The absence of diabetes in the family was often used as a reason to perceive a low risk. Participants who primarily perceived genetic predisposition as a cause felt less able to prevent getting diabetes. CONCLUSION: Future diabetes prevention strategies would benefit from giving more attention to individual perceptions, especially in the context of family history, explaining the multifactorial character of diabetes, and highlighting effective ways to reduce the risk
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)A54
JournalPreventing chronic disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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