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Public Awareness of Genetic Influence on Chronic Disease Risk: Are Genetic and Lifestyle Causal Beliefs Compatible?

Sanderson, SC; Waller, J; Humphries, SE; Wardle, J; (2011) Public Awareness of Genetic Influence on Chronic Disease Risk: Are Genetic and Lifestyle Causal Beliefs Compatible? PUBLIC HEALTH GENOM , 14 (4-5) 290 - 297. 10.1159/000294280. Green open access

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Abstract

Background/Aims: There is concern that raising awareness about the role of genetics in chronic disease etiology could undermine public belief that lifestyles are important, leading to adverse effects on public health. We tested the hypothesis that people who believe genetics influence chronic disease risk are less likely to believe lifestyles play a role. Methods: Open-ended questions about cancer and heart disease risk factors were included in a population-based survey of 1,747 British adults. Responses were coded for causal beliefs about genetics and lifestyle (smoking, diet, alcohol, exercise). Results: One third of the respondents identified genetic factors as influencing cancer (35%) and heart disease (36%) risk. Identifying genetic risk was associated with female gender, older age and education for both diseases, as well as with family history for heart disease. Individuals identifying genetic influences on cancer risk were more likely to identify diet (p < 0.001) and exercise (p < 0.05), and mentioned more lifestyle factors overall (p < 0.05), independent of demographics and family history. Patterns were similar for heart disease. Conclusion: People who recognize that genetics influence chronic disease risk appear more, not less, likely to recognize the role of lifestyles, contradicting suggestions that the public takes an 'either/or' view of the etiology of these potentially preventable diseases. Copyright (C) 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel

Type: Article
Title: Public Awareness of Genetic Influence on Chronic Disease Risk: Are Genetic and Lifestyle Causal Beliefs Compatible?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1159/000294280
Additional information: © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel. Open Access License: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (www.karger.com/OA-license), applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.
Keywords: Public awareness, Genetics, Open-ended questions, CORONARY-HEART-DISEASE, FAMILY-HISTORY, CANCER-PATIENTS, SELF-REGULATION, SCREENING TOOL, HEALTH, INFORMATION, POPULATION, PREVENTION, BEHAVIOR
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/97318
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