Genetics in Medicine (2005) 7, 776–776; doi:10.1097/01.GIM.0000162876.65555.AB

Are pregnant women making informed choices about prenatal screening?

Matthijs van den Berg1, Danielle R M Timmermans1, Leo P ten Kate2, John M G van Vugt3 and Gerrit van der Wal1

  1. 1Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Clinical and Human Genetics, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands

Correspondence: Matthijs van den Berg, MSc, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7, NL-1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Received 17 December 2004; Accepted 1 February 2005



Purpose: Prenatal screening should enable pregnant women to make informed choices. An informed decision is defined as being based on sufficient, relevant information and consistent with the decision maker's values. This study aims to assess to what extent pregnant women make informed choices about prenatal screening, and to assess the psychological effects of informed decision-making.

Methods: The study sample consisted of 1159 pregnant women who were offered the nuchal translucency measurement or the maternal serum screening test. Level of knowledge, value consistency, informed choice, decisional conflict, satisfaction with decision, and anxiety were measured using questionnaires.

Results: Of the participants, 83% were classified as having sufficient knowledge about prenatal screening, 82% made a value-consistent decision to accept or decline prenatal screening, and 68% made an informed decision. Informed choice was associated with more satisfaction with the decision, less decisional conflict (this applied only to test acceptors), but was not associated with less anxiety.

Conclusion: Although the rate of informed choice is relatively high, substantial percentages of women making uninformed choices due to insufficient knowledge, value inconsistency, or both, were found. Informed choice appeared to be psychologically beneficial. The present study underlines the importance of achieving informed choice in the context of prenatal screening.


decision making; informed choice; prenatal screening; genetic testing; Down syndrome