Families have similar genetic backgrounds as well as similar lifestyles and environments. These factors can give a person a clue on the medical issues and conditions that run in the family. When one notices disorder patterns in the family, a healthcare professional can help determine if a person, a family member, or generations to come could be at risk of having a similar condition. One needs to gain information on the immediate family members because it helps identify the above typical possibilities of common disorders such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease (Mendes et al., 2018). These disorders are influenced by multiple factors, including lifestyle choices, the environment in one’s life, and genetic predispositions. Additionally, knowing the family history can alert a person to the possibility of developing or having some rare conditions such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.
Once a person has this information, they are well placed to take action and reduce their chances of developing similar familial diseases. For example, when a person is at a high risk of developing certain cancers, a healthcare professional can recommend for such a person to have regular screening such as a colonoscopy or mammography from an early age (Saulnier et al., 2018; Wang et al., 2017). A healthcare professional will also be able to recommend testing and check-ups for people prone to developing some diseases that run in the family. Further, information on one’s family diseases will inform a person on the need to make lifestyle changes at an early age. Examples of lifestyle changes include regular exercise, abstaining from alcohol, and smoking tobacco, which can help a person lower the possibility of developing such illnesses.
According to HHS (n.d), HIPAA requires that healthcare workers such as nurses, physicians, and healthcare facilities protect patient information. However, a person can approve their data to be shared with third parties, including family members. Therefore, a healthcare facility or healthcare worker should wait to be granted permission by a patient to share information regarding diseases and illnesses that are hereditary.
Mendes, Á., Metcalfe, A., Paneque, M., Sousa, L., Clarke, A. J., & Sequeiros, J. (2018). Communication of information about genetic risks: putting families at the center. Family process, 57(3), 836-846.
Saulnier, K. M., Cinà, M., Chan, B., Pelletier, S., Dorval, M., & Joly, Y. (2018). Communication of genetic information in the palliative care context: Ethical and legal issues. Medical Law International, 18(4), 219-240.
Wang, K., Gaitsch, H., Poon, H., Cox, N. J., & Rzhetsky, A. (2017). Classification of common human diseases derived from shared genetic and environmental determinants. Nature genetics, 49(9), 1319-1325.