Parents' needs after ultrasound diagnosis of a fetal malformation: an empirical deficit analysis



We studied 56 pregnant women and 24 partners after ultrasound examination in the 18–24th gestational week revealed a fetal malformation. The subjects were followed through the process of examination, information sharing and counselling about the option of terminating the pregnancy. Regardless of sociodemographic variables or attitude towards the pregnancy, the diagnosis was always traumatic. A detailed critique of the physician's behavior and function emphasized his important role in the process of coming to terms with the malformation and gave clear indications of the positive expectations parents had. The affected patients expected the role of the professionally competent expert to be combined with that of the empathetic approachable counsellor, whose step-by-step explanation would allow them to decide for themselves whether to terminate the pregnancy. The partner's participation was an essential aid to adjustment. It remains to be seen to what extent the functions of the doctor and the patient's expectations of the doctor are realistic and justified. Copyright © 1994 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology