BACKGROUND: Since the identification of the cystic fibrosis (CF) gene, large-scale CF carrier screening has become possible. One possible target group is couples planning a pregnancy (preconceptional screening), providing a maximum number of reproductive options and a minimum of time constraints.
OBJECTIVES: To identify obstacles in the implementation of a preconceptional CF carrier screening programme, to find out how potential providers and the target population think the screening should be implemented, and to determine whether potential providers think they are able to provide the screening programme.
METHODS: A survey was conducted among 200 general practitioners (GPs), 134 Municipal Health Service (MHS) workers and 303 recently married couples.
RESULTS: 52% (102/197) of the eligible GPs participated, 84% (113/134) of the MHS workers and 70% (380/544) of the individuals planning a pregnancy. In general, potential providers and the target population had a positive attitude towards CF screening. Preferred methods of informing the target population were: in leaflets, during a GP consultation for those people seeking advice before pregnancy, and sending a personal invitation to all people of reproductive age. Potential providers believed that they would be able to provide the screening programme. Important perceived obstacles were the absence of a preconceptional care setting, high workload, and lack of financial resources.
CONCLUSION: Different intervention strategies will be necessary to overcome the obstacles in the implementation. The positive attitude towards CF carrier screening in combination with the willingness of the potential providers to participate in the screening programme will make it easier to overcome the obstacles.