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Exploring general practitioners' experience of informing women about prenatal screening tests for foetal abnormalities: a qualitative focus group study

, : Exploring general practitioners' experience of informing women about prenatal screening tests for foetal abnormalities: a qualitative focus group study. Bmc Health Services Research 8(): 114-114

Recent developments have made screening tests for foetal abnormalities available earlier in pregnancy and women have a range of testing options accessible to them. It is now recommended that all women, regardless of their age, are provided with information on prenatal screening tests. General Practitioners (GPs) are often the first health professionals a woman consults in pregnancy. As such, GPs are well positioned to inform women of the increasing range of prenatal screening tests available. The aim of this study was to explore GPs experience of informing women of prenatal genetic screening tests for foetal abnormality. A qualitative study consisting of four focus groups was conducted in metropolitan and rural Victoria, Australia. A discussion guide was used and the audio-taped transcripts were independently coded by two researchers using thematic analysis. Multiple coders and analysts and informant feedback were employed to reduce the potential for researcher bias and increase the validity of the findings. Six themes were identified and classified as 'intrinsic' if they occurred within the context of the consultation or 'extrinsic' if they consisted of elements that impacted on the GP beyond the scope of the consultation. The three intrinsic themes were the way GPs explained the limitations of screening, the extent to which GPs provided information selectively and the time pressures at play. The three extrinsic factors were GPs' attitudes and values towards screening, the conflict they experienced in offering screening information and the sense of powerlessness within the screening test process and the health care system generally. Extrinsic themes reveal GPs' attitudes and values to screening and to disability, as well as raising questions about the fundamental premise of testing. The increasing availability and utilisation of screening tests, in particular first trimester tests, has expanded GPs' role in facilitating women's informed decision-making. Recognition of the importance of providing this complex information warrants longer consultations to respond to the time pressures that GPs experience. Understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that impact on GPs may serve to shape educational resources to be more appropriate, relevant and supportive.


PMID: 18507850

DOI: 10.1186/1472-6963-8-114

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