Information and decision support needs of parents considering amniocentesis: interviews with pregnant women and health professionals

Marie-Anne Durand, Mareike Stiel, Jacky Boivin, Glyn Elwyn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Web of Science)


Our aim was to clarify and categorize information and decision support needs of pregnant women deciding about amniocentesis.Prenatal screening for Down's syndrome (implemented in routine practice) generates a quantifiable risk of chromosome abnormality. To increase certainty, chromosomal material needs to be obtained through amniocentesis or other diagnostic test. Amniocentesis carries risks of pregnancy loss.Semi-structured interviews were conducted with health professionals and pregnant women who had considered amniocentesis. The data were qualitatively analysed using a two-step thematic content analysis.A sample of 17 health professionals and 17 pregnant women were interviewed. Professionals demonstrated little consensus regarding the miscarriage rate, the potential consequences of amniocentesis testing and the uncertainty associated with the tests. Furthermore, methods employed to communicate risks varied between professionals. Pregnant women reported heightened stress and anxiety. Twelve out of 17 women described the decision as complex and difficult to make while five participants were satisfied with the information and support provided. Women would have liked more information about the risks involved, the results, the consequences of an amniocentesis and associated emotional difficulties. Women highlighted the need for personalized information, presented in multiple ways, while remaining simple and unbiased.There is variation in the provision of information related to amniocentesis testing. The majority of pregnant women reported difficulties making a decision and identified dimensions of information and decision support where improvements were needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • amniocentesis
  • decision support
  • decision making
  • information needs
  • prenatal testing

Cite this