Fetal anomaly screening: what do women want to know?
Version of Record online: 2 JUN 2006
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 55, Issue 1, pages 11–19, July 2006
How to Cite
Lalor, J. and Begley, C. (2006), Fetal anomaly screening: what do women want to know?. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 55: 11–19. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2006.03884.x
- Issue online: 2 JUN 2006
- Version of Record online: 2 JUN 2006
- Accepted for publication 13 January 2006
- empirical research report;
- fetal anomaly;
- grounded theory;
Aim. This paper reports a study exploring women's experiences of receiving an adverse diagnosis at a routine second trimester ultrasound examination, and the factors that influenced their preparedness for an adverse finding.
Background. Ultrasound has become a routine part of prenatal care offered to pregnant women in most developed countries and technological advances are making it increasingly possible to detect more anomalies, and at earlier gestations. When fetal anomaly detection can be an outcome of the examination, provision of effective information to ensure informed consent for screening remains a challenge.
Method. A grounded theory study (n = 38) was carried out in 2004 and 2005 using an in-depth interview within 4 weeks of diagnosis and constant comparative analysis.
Findings. The core category of balancing information emerged, whereby women balanced the expectation of a healthy baby and the non-threatening nature of the ultrasound examination with the shock of an adverse diagnosis. Assumed fetal health was contributed to by being in good health, experiencing normal symptoms of pregnancy and having other healthy children. The majority of women believed that provision of extensive and detailed lists regarding fetal anomaly detection would only cause unnecessary anxiety and worry, and suggested that a less detailed approach is required for a routine screening programme for low-risk pregnancy.
Conclusion. The drive to inform all women fully of ultrasound detection rates for specific anomalies may be counter-productive as it will enhance the worry pregnant women already feel in relation to the health of their unborn baby.