Needs-AssessmentBy Becca Bakal, MPH

Welcome to the third installment of our blog post series about the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics Community Needs AssessmentLast time, I shared some factors that influence understanding of Jewish genetic health.

This time, I’ll discuss strategies to support people in learning about Jewish genetic health. The final big question the needs assessment addressed was: Now that we’ve measured what people know about Jewish genetics, and how that differs between groups, how can we move the needle?

Needs assessment participants advocated for two main avenues of sharing information about Jewish genetic health: professional education and community education. Some suggested that they would be most receptive to information about recessive disorders and hereditary cancers if it came from their healthcare providers (including therapists) or clergy.

That said, not everyone has a relationship with a rabbi, and not every healthcare provider has the time or bandwidth to address Jewish genetic health in depth with patients. Community education can supplement and complement professional education. Both are necessary to ensure that people feel empowered to manage individual and family health. The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics already provides opportunities for professional education and community education, and these findings are helping us to grow and refine the educational supports we offer.

Participants recommended a variety of approaches to engaged constituents, themselves, and their peers:

  • In-person programming: speaker events, small-group discussions, panel events
  • Virtual outreach: webinars, podcasts, email newsletters, social media, short explanatory videos
  • Physical resources: flyers, pamphlets

Participants also spoke of the power of peer education and learning from their families about health. We can most effectively educate at-risk families of Jewish ancestry by reaching them through a variety of avenues. Different formats and topics interest people across the lifespan, so developing a menu of options for education is critical.

Tune in for our last post to learn about what we’re taking away from the needs assessment process. I’ll share our recommendations and next steps based on these findings.

Download the needs assessment here.