MCC 2007 Spirit of Collaboration Honorable Mention Award Winner Oakwood Healthcare System’s Family Health History Campaign
About the Initiative Dr. Julie Zenger-Hain, co-chair of the Michigan Cancer Genetics Alliance and director of Clinical Cytogentics at Oakwood Healthcare Systems, initiated and led an intersectoral approach to promote the importance of family health history (including breast and colon cancer) for chronic disease prevention and health promotion.
For Oakwood Healthcare System employees, the importance of family health history was promoted throughout the fall of 2006 at employee benefit enrollment fairs, daily communications (i.e., systemwide e-mail, trivia, departmental sessions), U.S. Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait bookmarks included with personnel paychecks, highly visible Michigan Department of Community Health family health history display with handouts in hospital’s lobby, and a Grand Rounds Presentation by the deputy director of CDC’s National Office of Public Health Genomics. Additionally, Oakwood Health System employees were given several opportunities to meet with Oakwood Health Systems genetic counselors to discuss individual concerns regarding family health history.
Likewise, similar educational initiatives and genetic counseling opportunities were conducted at multiple organizations in the community (i.e., SEMCA, Arbor Hospice and Home Care, Wayne County Community College, Baker College, UAW, St. Roberts Church, Cranbrook Schools, ASG Renaissance, Community Bank of Dearborn).
The importance of family health history and the Oakwood Healthcare System’s Family Health History Campaign was promoted in several local and national media segments, including articles highlighting cancer family health history in the Detroit Free Press (11/20/06) and the Observer & Eccentric (12/24/2006), a news segment aired on WXYZ Channel 7 News on Thanksgiving Day (11/23/2006), a Comcast Focus health interview (10/2006), and a press release from the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General (11/15/2006). Several of these media segments included interviews with Dr. Zenger-Hain.
The collaborative project culminated with a proclamation by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm naming January 2007 as Family Health History Month.
Impetus for the Collaboration
Thanksgiving Day 2006 was the third annual National Family History Day. National Family History Day has been promoted by the U.S. Surgeon General as an opportune time for families to come together to celebrate Thanksgiving and to discuss health by collecting and documenting family health history.
As quoted by Acting Surgeon General Kenneth P. Moritsugu, MD, MPH, “As families across the nation come together to relax and give thanks, it’s an ideal time for each of us to start learning more about family health history. This not just knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Knowing your family health history can save your life, as well as the lives of those you love.”
To make it easier to collect family health history, the Office of the US Surgeon General has created a free, Web-based tool that organizes family health history information, called My Family Health Portrait.
Results Ongoing relationships have been established to promote family health history in this community. For instance, Oakwood Health Systems continued community lectures in the fall of 2007 at Fidelity Bank (formerly Community Bank of Dearborn). Oakwood Health Systems also received national attention and established national relationships with NHGRI, CDC, and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General for this collaboration.
The most significant achievements may very well not be able to be documented, but may likely be the number of families that were able to discuss important information regarding their health with family, collect and document their other family members' health conditions, and share this information with their health care providers for risk assessment and recommendations, leading to a greater health for all.
Lessons Learned Because this project required no additional funds to support, this collaboration further demonstrates how one public health message can be achieved by the power of many working together at no financial cost or without financial incentives. Family health history is also the most effective and inexpensive genomics tool currently available.
“Oakwood Healthcare System’s Family Health History Campaign” received the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s 2007 Spirit of Collaboration Honorable Mention Award. The annual award is presented to member organizations that have done outstanding collaborative work to significantly move comprehensive cancer control activities forward in Michigan.