Accessibility of Tools

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Is the tool available in the correct languages?

Knowing the background of your community members will help you determine if the tool is available in most or all of the languages that are most prevalent in your community. In addition to determining which languages are most prevalent, keep in mind that Braille might also be a necessity.

Are medical records easily available in your community?

Places such as physician offices, clinics, and hospitals might have medical records that would provide pertinent information to you and your family. If the family has frequently relocated, this could make accessing medical records more difficult. However, if one knows the name or can find out the names of previous hospitals visited, one can usually request medical records by faxing a request to the medical records department.

What is the literacy level of the tool?

It is important to take into account the literacy level of your community to determine if the literacy level of the tool is appropriate for your community. If the community is not very highly educated, it is imperative that the tool is at a level that can be understood by the participants. Consider using a different tool if one seems to be too complicated and not easily understood by those in your community in order to keep participants involved and not frustrated with this endeavor.

Does the tool prominently feature the names of government agencies?

It may be beneficial for the tool to feature the names, websites, and contact information of government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These agencies are good resources for organizations and people looking for more information on health.

Does the tool cover the most common conditions in your community?

It is important that the tool addresses conditions that are relevant to your target audience. Do research and speak with health care professionals in your area so you include appropriate disorders. The inclusion of irrelevant disorders will waste both your time and theirs.

Do photos and graphics in the tool reflect the ethnic or racial background of individuals?

Community members will be more inclined to utilize the tool if they feel that it has some relevance to their situation. Depicting specific features such as ethnic or racial backgrounds and even ages and certain conditions that relate to your community will convince them that it can be applicable to their lives.

Does the tool appeal visually to the community?

Having a tool that captures one’s attention will be more likely to be investigated and used then one that might be bland and easily overlooked. Attracting individuals to the materials will aid in grabbing the interest of your community members in the project.

How much time does the tool take to complete?

Time is an important factor when trying to engage participants in gathering a family health history. If the tool is very time consuming, most individuals will not follow through with completing it. However, if it can be completed rather quickly and easily, it will be easier to convince your community that it is worthwhile to complete.

Can the tool be modified by your organization?

Is your organization willing to promote use of a tool that cannot be modified?

Decide whether or not your organization considers customizing a family health history tool to be crucial. Depending on how specific the goals of your audience may be, customization may not be a requirement.

Does the tool discuss environmental as well as genetic risks?

It is important for the tool to include environmental factors in addition to genetic factors in determining one’s health risk. For example, if there is a family history of lung cancer, it is also important to know if the affected individuals were smokers or worked in a profession where they might have inhaled toxins. One must also consider factors such as obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise that could have contributed to certain conditions such as diabetes and heart problems in relatives. The participants must keep in mind that even if a condition such as diabetes does not run in the family, they could still be at risk having it, especially if they do not lead a healthy lifestyle.

Does the tool suggest positive lifestyle changes?

If the tool focuses on identifying disease and the devastating effects that it has on the individual rather then some positive steps one can take to manage or treat a condition, individuals will be less likely to become involved in using the tool. It might be best to ensure that positive outcomes are presented before introducing the tool to your community so that you do not give out the wrong message about the tool.

Is the tool applicable to different family structures?

One major factor to consider when introducing the tool is if it can actually be used by community members. For example, individuals that are adopted will not be able to assess their genetic risk unless they know the health history of their biological relatives. However, if the tool discusses different lifestyle and environmental factors, these individuals will be able to determine health risks to a certain degree.

Is there any potential commercial bias to the tool?

Does the tool itself collect data?

Some tools will guide individuals through collecting information such as a pedigree – a family health tree. This information can be particularly useful in sharing with other family members and with one’s physician. By having something tangible, individuals will be more inclined to follow-up with the project and not discard the idea after working through the tool.

Does the tool explain how to collect information from family members?

Many users will not know how to go about collecting family health history information or may feel uncomfortable about doing so. Suggesting ways to collect information from family members is likely to increase the pool of people that actually use the tool within their own families.

  • ItRunsInMyFamily.com helps organizations facilitate family health history collection with their family health history tool.

Does the fool use folklore or positive health stories?

The use of folklore and personal health stories may draw interest to the tool. While facts provide valuable information, you may want something to capture someone's initial attention. By including these kinds of stories within the educational text could help to keep users focused and interested in what you are communicating while also providing a more personal connection.

Does the tool present the information visually (with pictures) as well as in text?

It is important to note that people have varied styles of learning. Some people greatly benefit by having additional visual context. Informative text on its own may be completely wasted on the subset of your audience that learned best visually through graphics.

Does the tool require computer or web access?

If the tool requires computer or internet access, be aware that your entire target audience may not have this access. For users like these, you may need to provide an alternate method of using the tool whether it be providing internet access or offering to work on tools for them via telephone communication.

Does the tool require explanation?

How are privacy issues addressed by the tool?

What are the targeted age ranges in your community?

It is important to distinguish and age target due to issues such as literacy and education levels. Certain language may be appropriate and effective for one age group but not for another. Consider the age that you think is most likely to use or benefit from your tool and take this into account when developing the language used in the tool.