Are counsellors' attitudes influencing pregnant women's attitudes and decisions on prenatal screening?

Matthijs Van Den Berg*, Danielle R.M. Timmermans, Johanna H. Kleinveld, Jacques Th M. Van Eijk, Dirk L. Knol, Gerrit Van Der Wal, John M.G. Van Vugt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: It is generally recognised that choices concerning treatment or screening should be people's own, autonomous decisions. However, in the context of genetic counselling, many studies found that counsellors deviate from nondirectiveness, or that subjective norm influences behaviour. The present study aimed to investigate whether prenatal counsellors (midwives, gynaecologists) influence pregnant women's decisions and their attitudes regarding prenatal screening. It was hypothesised that uptake rates and attitudes would be associated with the counsellor's attitude toward prenatal screening. Methods: Pregnant women attending their midwifery or gynaecology practice were asked to fill out postal questionnaires before and after they were offered prenatal screening for Down syndrome. Their prenatal counsellors also filled in a questionnaire. These questionnaires assessed attitudes toward prenatal screening and background variables. The study sample consisted of 945 pregnant women, being guided by 97 prenatal counsellors. Results: Multilevel regression analyses revealed that neither uptake rates, nor attitude toward prenatal screening were significantly predicted by counsellors' attitudes toward prenatal screening. Conclusion: It is suggested that the advice these pregnant women were reported to have received, should rather be interpreted as an indication of shared decision-making and social support than of social pressure and undesired influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-524
Number of pages7
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007

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