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Rural youths' understanding of gene x environmental contributors to heritable health conditions: The case of podoconiosis in Ethiopia.

By Kibur Engdawork, Colleen M McBride, Desta Ayode, Caitlin G Allen, Gail Davey and Getnet Tadele


OBJECTIVES:Assess the feasibility of engaging youth to disseminate accurate information about gene by environmental (GxE) influences on podoconiosis, a neglected tropical lymphedema endemic in southern Ethiopia. METHODS:A cross sectional survey was conducted with 377 youth randomly selected from 2 districts of Southern Ethiopia. Measures included GxE knowledge (4 true/false statements), preventive action knowledge (endorse wearing shoes and foot hygiene), causal misconceptions (11 items related to contagion) and confidence to explain GxE (9 disagree/agree statements). RESULTS:Over half (59%) accurately endorsed joint contributions of gene and environment to podoconiosis and preventive mechanisms (e.g., wearing protective shoes and keeping foot hygiene). Multivariable logistic regression showed that youth with accurate understanding about GxE contributors reported having: some education, friends or kin who were affected by the condition, and prior interactions with health extension workers. Surprisingly, higher accurate GxE knowledge was positively associated with endorsing contagion as a causal factor. Accuracy of GxE and preventive action knowledge were positively associated with youth's confidence to explain podoconiosis-related information. CONCLUSIONS:Youth have the potential to be competent disseminators of GxE information about podoconiosis. Interventions to foster confidence among youth in social or kin relationships with affected individuals may be most promising. Efforts to challenge youth's co-existing inaccurate beliefs about contagion could strengthen the link of GxE explanations to preventive actions

Topics: Arctic medicine. Tropical medicine, RC955-962, Public aspects of medicine, RA1-1270
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Year: 2018
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006763
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