Original Research

The knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding family history of hereditary diseases amongst undergraduate students at the University of the Free State

Lynette J. van der Merwe, Gaby Nel, Caitlin Williams, Swalica Erasmus, Riana Nel, Marize Kolver, Benine van den Heever, Gina Joubert
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 1| a5392 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5392 | © 2022 Lynette J Van der Merwe, Gaby Nel, Caitlin Williams, Swalica Erasmus, Riana Nel, Marize Kolver, Benine van den Heever, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 August 2021 | Published: 27 January 2022

About the author(s)

Lynette J. van der Merwe, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gaby Nel, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Caitlin Williams, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Swalica Erasmus, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Riana Nel, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Marize Kolver, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Benine van den Heever, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Family medical history may help prevent, diagnose and treat inherited non-communicable diseases. Many people are unaware of family medical history, and medical practitioners may not realise its value when dealing with hereditary diseases. The study aimed to determine the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPs) regarding family medical history of hereditary diseases amongst undergraduate students at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using a KAP survey was conducted. Questionnaires were distributed electronically to students for voluntary and anonymous completion.

Results: There were 651 respondents (response rate 3.1%). Most respondents had good knowledge about their family history of hereditary diseases. Significantly more Health Sciences students reported knowing their family medical history. The majority knew that knowledge of hereditary diseases could improve quality of life, that they had a greater chance of being diagnosed if a family member already had the disease, and that lifestyle changes could improve health. Health Sciences students’ level of knowledge was higher than that of students from other faculties. At least 95% of students indicated that they would change lifestyle habits to prevent early onset of hereditary disease, but their practices regarding good healthcare were poor. Health Sciences students’ practices were significantly better, but less than half of all students had made lifestyle changes or had done screenings based on their family medical history.

Conclusion: Although undergraduate respondents had good knowledge of family medical history and positive attitudes about screening, they did not adapt their practises. Health Sciences students’ KAPs reflected the acquisition of core competencies. Institutions could educate students on the importance of early screenings.

 


Keywords

hereditary diseases; family medical history; knowledge, attitudes and practices; undergraduate students; lifestyle; non-communicable diseases

Metrics

Total abstract views: 1946
Total article views: 2232


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.