Attitudes towards Prenatal Genetic Testing: A Review of the Literature

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 4:05 PM

Mandeep Kaur, BSN, RN
School of Nursing, The University of Texas - Austin, Austin, TX

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe what the current existing literature states in regards to attitudes towards prenatal genetic testing.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe a multidisciplinary approach to where this current literature lacks in this area and where future research can occur.

Purpose: If pregnancy wasn’t stressful enough, technology has provided care givers with means to put added stressors on expectant couples. Couples make numerous decisions, anywhere from simply getting a three dimensional ultrasound to see the baby in utero, to the extremely difficult decision of terminating a pregnancy of a fetus incompatible with life. A large component of prenatal care is genetic testing. Often an area of great concern to expectant couples, as the results of these tests can have life altering affects.

Methods: The literature was reviewed using systematic processes. A search of CINHAL and MEDLINE databases using the terms “Genetic Test*” OR “Genetic Screen*” AND “Prenat*” retrieved 2839 articles. Then adding the term “Attitud*”, reduced the number of articles retrieved to 349. Of these, 10 quantitative and qualitative studies were then collected, and reviewed.

Results: This search showed that only four of the 10 articles were directly related to the term attitudes. The other articles included important attitude related topics such as parental anxiety, decision making, and perceived autonomy. Overall, findings show that available resources,­­­ societal influence, perceived risk or susceptibility and beliefs about genetic disease all provided the foundation for the attitudes of expectant couples in the prenatal time period.

Conclusion: Taking a multidisciplinary approach can greatly affect attitudes as having geneticists and other varying health care professionals explain specific aspects of genetic testing can sway ones opinions about them. Much research is needed to fully comprehend this area of healthcare as10 articles do not provide a representative view of this topic in the general population