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Keywords:

  • psychosocial, legal, and ethical implications;
  • cell-free fetal DNA;
  • cell-free fetal RNA;
  • non-invasive prenatal diagnosis;
  • healthcare provider perspectives;
  • clinical translation

Abstract

Objective

To provide a preliminary assessment of obstetric healthcare provider opinions surrounding implementation of cell-free fetal DNA testing.

Methods

A 37-question pilot survey was used to address questions around the translation and use of non-invasive prenatal testing using cell-free fetal DNA. The survey was distributed and collected at a Continuing Medical Education course on obstetrics and gynecology.

Results

Of 62 survey respondents, 73% were female and 87% held MD/DO degrees. Respondents generally agreed that patients want prenatal diagnostic information to help make decisions about a pregnancy and that cell-free fetal DNA testing would encourage the testing of more patients for more conditions. However, there was an overall lack of knowledge or conviction about using this technology. Genetic counseling and professional society approval were deemed important to implementation, whereas the possibility of direct-to-consumer testing and government regulation produced mixed responses. Respondents indicated that they would be more likely to offer cell-free fetal DNA testing for chromosomal abnormalities and single-gene disorders, but would be cautious with respect to determination of sex and behavioral or late-onset conditions.

Conclusion

Preliminary assessment indicates uncertainty among obstetric providers about the details of implementing cell-free fetal DNA testing and suggests expanded research on perspectives of this stakeholder group. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.