Survey of the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of Western Australian women in relation to prenatal screening and diagnostic procedures


: Dr Peter O’Leary, Department of Health, PO Box 8172, Stirling Street, Perth, Western Australia 6849, Australia. Email:


Objective: To determine the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of women in Western Australia (WA) regarding prenatal procedures.

Design: A self-administered mail survey.

Sample: The survey was sent to all women who gave birth during July 2001 (n = 1801). The participants were 633 women aged 15–45.

Results: The mean total knowledge score was 16 out of a possible 26 (62%). The average score for all three attitude factors was four, ‘agree’, on a Likert scale of five. Women who reported they had private health insurance and women in the metropolitan area had significantly higher knowledge levels and had significantly more positive attitudes towards the adequacy of information. Those who did not have a screening test had less positive attitudes towards the value of the tests and had less confidence in results. Those with higher educational attainments had higher knowledge and less positive attitudes towards the value of the tests.

Conclusions: Women felt positive towards the value of the tests, were confident in their results and felt positive towards the adequacy of information; however, their understanding of this information seems to be poor. It seems that the choice to undergo testing is not well informed. It was clear women need more support, information, explanations, and more time to absorb the information.