INTRODUCTION: Ongoing developments in prenatal anomaly screening necessitate continuous updating of counsellors' knowledge. We explored the effect of a refresher counselling course on participants' knowledge of prenatal screening.
METHODS: We investigated the association between knowledge and counsellors' working experience. Also, the association between knowledge and counsellors' attitude towards prenatal screening was determined. All counsellors in the North-West region of the Netherlands were invited to attend a refresher counselling course and fill in both a pre-course and a post-course questionnaire. The participants consisted of midwifes, sonographers and gynaecologists. A 55-item questionnaire assessed pre-course (T0) and post-course (T1) knowledge. At T0, counsellors' attitude towards the prenatal screening program was assessed and its association with knowledge analysed.
RESULTS: Of 387 counsellors, 68 (18%) attended the course and completed both questionnaires. Knowledge increased significantly from 77.7% to 84.6% (p<0.01). Scores were lowest regarding congenital heart diseases. Participants with ultrasound experience scored higher on T0, but improvement was seen in participants with and without ultrasound experience. Participants with a positive attitude towards a free-of-charge first trimester combined test had higher knowledge scores than participants with a negative attitude (62% vs 46%; p=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: A refresher course improved counsellors' knowledge on prenatal screening. Ultrasound experience and a positive attitude towards free screening may be associated with higher knowledge levels. Participating in a mandatory refresher counselling course is useful for the continuous improvement of healthcare practitioners' knowledge. More research on the effect of knowledge and attitude on the quality of prenatal screening is necessary.