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Efficacy of a touchscreen computer based family cancer history questionnaire and subsequent cancer risk assessment
  1. Judith Westman,
  2. Heather Hampel,
  3. Teresa Bradley
  1. Human Cancer Genetics Program, Arthur G James Cancer Hospital and Richard J Solove Research Institute, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  1. Dr Westman, James Cancer Hospital, Suite 519, 300 West Tenth Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA, westman-1{at}


OBJECTIVE A computer based touchscreen family cancer history questionnaire was developed and implemented to facilitate the provision of cancer risk assessments for the ambulatory and outpatient populations of a free standing cancer hospital.

METHODS A questionnaire consisting of a series of branched point decision making screens was developed which enables the participant to enter demographic data, personal cancer history, and cancer histories for first and second degree relatives. A freestanding touchscreen computer kiosk system was used to place the questionnaire in public areas of the cancer hospital and clinic. Genetic professionals analysed the data received, using published criteria, and provided a basic cancer risk assessment and surveillance recommendations within 10 business days. A survey was completed by a small random group of users (n=59) three to six months after receipt of their risk assessment.

RESULTS After 11 months, 1440 people had entered information and received a written communication. Only 2% of completed questionnaires contained insufficient information to provide a basic risk assessment. Of the small group of participants surveyed, almost all (95%) felt “very comfortable” using the system, 93% remembered receiving the risk assessment letter when queried three to six months later, 42% felt their perceptions about cancer risk had changed, and 20% had made changes in their or their family's cancer surveillance practices.

CONCLUSION The touchscreen computer family history questionnaire allows easy collection of family history information, provision of risk assessments to a broad population, and promotes increased awareness of familial risk and appropriate surveillance.

  • genetic counselling
  • risk assessment
  • computers
  • medical informatics

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