Characteristics of the postcounseling reproductive decision-making process: An explorative study

Authors

  • Petra G. Frets,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Genetics, Erasmus University and University Hospital, Dijkzigt, Rotterdam
    2. Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Erasmus University Medical School, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    • University Hospital, Department of Clinical Genetics, Westzeedijk 112 3016 AH Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Frans Verhage,

    1. Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Erasmus University Medical School, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Martinus F. Niermeijer

    1. Department of Clinical Genetics, Erasmus University and University Hospital, Dijkzigt, Rotterdam
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Abstract

An in-depth, recorded interview of 30 couples 2–3 years after genetic counseling explored the characteristics of the postcounseling decision-making process, including the role of guilt feelings towards the proband. The study concerned couples with an affected child, sib, or spouse. Results were evaluated by 2 to 4 judges. In contrast to other studies, a generally unstructured decision-making process was found whereby guilt feelings played a significant role in more than half the couples. Guilt feelings were more predominant in couples with an affected sib than in those with an affected spouse. Lack of structure did not seem to complicate the decision-making process. Therefore, authors do not advocate promotion of structuring the decision-making process. Genetic counselors might focus on understanding counselees' feelings concerning the reproductive decision. Acceptance of apparently irrational considerations is particularly important, because these feelings indicate the influence of unconscious motives. Another important aspect of supporting counselees is to understand the role played by guilt feelings toward parents or an affected sib.

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