People who influence women's decisions and preferred sources of information about prenatal testing for birth defects

Alice M. Jaques, Robin J. Bell, Lyndsey Watson, Jane L. Halliday

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: More than half of Victorian pregnant women are undergoing prenatal testing for birth defects, although little is known about the factors that are influencing their decisions. Aims: To examine whom women perceived as influencing their decision about prenatal testing for birth defects, with whom they would have liked to talk more, and what sources of information they preferred. Methods: A total of 737 pregnant women aged 37 years and over, who either had or had not undergone prenatal testing (screening and/or diagnosis) completed a questionnaire in 18 hospitals throughout Victoria. Results: Over 90% reported that they themselves had a strong influence on their decision, and 70% reported their partner as strongly influencing their decision. Approximately 30% of women who had both screening and diagnosis and more than 20% of women who had no prenatal testing, would like to have discussed prenatal testing with women who had previously had testing. Face-to-face counselling with a doctor or counsellor was the preferred source of information, followed by a pamphlet as the second choice. Conclusions: Given that both tested and untested women felt so strongly that they were responsible for their own decisions about prenatal testing, it is unlikely that universal acceptance and uptake will occur, even in this group of women of advanced maternal age. A support network of women who have already had testing could supplement existing sources of support. However, there continues to be a need for face-to-face sessions with a doctor or counsellor in combination with printed material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004


  • Decision-making
  • Influencing factors
  • Information sources
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Prenatal screening

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