Epigenetic education

Flinders researchers will investigate whether ‘epigenetic education’ will help motivate men to engage in healthy behaviours prior to conceiving a child.

Epigenetics refers to the inheritance of characteristics other than those inherited through the DNA sequence of genes. There are a number of companies that offer genetic and epigenetic disease testing to couples before they conceive. 

With the help of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, Associate Professor Sarah Cohen-Woods will explore whether delivering education and information around genetic factors in obesity, epigenetic factors and health promotion advice, can improve men’s intentions to engage in a healthy diet and exercise prior to conception and motivate them further.

“Direct-to-consumer personal genomics companies offer genetic and epigenetic disease susceptibility, lifestyle, and ancestry testing at an increasingly affordable cost,”
A/Prof Cohen-Woods explains.

“They frequently state individuals will find genetic risk information empowering, and it will encourage engagement with preventative behaviours, but evidence indicates this is not always the case.

“We hope our generated resources will be found to be beneficial and help to motivate men
to engage in healthy behaviours, and that this will then in the future be tested and extended to the broader population.

“We hope that understanding the impact of these educational interventions will better inform what information individuals should be provided with when they choose to undertake either genetic or epigenetic testing now and in the future.”


Research category: Genetics

Project title: Communicating the science: can epigenetic education improve intentions and efficacies

Lead researcher: Associate Professor Sarah Cohen Woods

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