Couples’ experiences with expanded carrier screening: evaluation of a university hospital screening offer

Ivy van Dijke, Phillis Lakeman, Naoual Sabiri, Hanna Rusticus, Cecile P. E. Ottenheim, Inge B. Mathijssen, Martina C. Cornel, Lidewij Henneman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Preconception carrier screening offers couples the possibility to receive information about the risk of having a child with a recessive disorder. Since 2016, an expanded carrier screening (ECS) test for 50 severe autosomal recessive disorders has been available at Amsterdam Medical Center, a Dutch university hospital. This mixed-methods study evaluated the experiences of couples that participated in the carrier screening offer, including high-risk participants, as well as participants with a general population risk. All participants received genetic counselling, and pre- (n = 132) and post-test (n = 86) questionnaires and semi-structured interviews (n = 16) were administered. The most important reason to have ECS was to spare a future child a life with a severe disorder (47%). The majority of survey respondents made an informed decision (86%), as assessed by the Multidimensional Measure of Informed Choice. Among the 86 respondents, 27 individual carriers and no new carrier couples were identified. Turn-around time of the test results was considered too long and costs were perceived as too high. Overall, mean levels of anxiety were not clinically elevated. High-risk respondents (n = 89) and pregnant respondents (n = 13) experienced higher levels of anxiety before testing, which decreased after receiving the test result. Although not clinically significant, distress was on average higher for carriers compared to non-carriers (p < 0.0001). All respondents would opt for the test again, and 80.2% would recommend it to others. The results suggest that ECS should ideally be offered before pregnancy, to minimise anxiety. This study could inform current and future implementation initiatives of preconception ECS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1258
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number8
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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