Reducing health risk in family members of patients with type 2 diabetes: views of first degree relatives.

BACKGROUND: Patients with type 2 diabetes can have an important role in discussing health risk within families. This study aimed to establish the acceptability to first degree relatives towards their relative with type 2 diabetes intervening as health promoters in their own families, using the Health Belief Model as a theoretical framework for evaluation.

METHODS: Cross-sectional questionnaire design. Survey questionnaire for first degree relative (sibling or child) mailed to a random sample of patients with type 2 diabetes registered with an urban hospital diabetes clinic (n = 607 eligible patients). Patients were asked to pass on questionnaires to one to two first degree relatives.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were returned from 257 families (42% response rate) with two responses provided by 107 families (a total of 364 questionnaires). The majority (94%) of first degree relatives of patients with type 2 diabetes would like to be informed about reducing their risk. Half (48%) of respondents reported being spoken to by a relative with type 2 diabetes about their risk of diabetes. Those spoken to were more likely to see themselves at risk of diabetes, to worry about developing diabetes and to view diabetes as a serious condition.

CONCLUSIONS: A role for patients with type 2 diabetes in discussing health risk in their family appears to be acceptable to many relatives. Discussion of risk and interventions to reduce health risk with their relatives should be encouraged in patients with type 2 diabetes.