Congenital anomalies: parents’ anxiety and women's concerns before prenatal testing and women's opinions towards the risk factors

Authors

  • Nevin Hotun Sahin PhD,

  • Ilkay Gungor MSc


Nevin Hotun Sahin
Istanbul University Florence Nightingale School of Nursing
Department of Obstetric and Gynecologic Nursing
Istanbul
Turkey
Telephone: +(90) 212 4400000/27082
E-mail: nevinsahin34@yahoo.com,nevinsah@istanbul.edu.tr

Abstract

Aims.  The aims of the study were to determine parents’ anxiety and women's concerns before prenatal testing and women's opinions towards the risk factors for congenital anomalies.

Background.  Undergoing prenatal screening or diagnostic tests cause potential distress and worry for parents. Little attention has been paid to the psychological aspect of such testing in clinical and research areas.

Design.  This descriptive study was conducted in a prenatal diagnosis unit in a university hospital in Istanbul. The convenience sample of the study consisted of 200 women and 104 partners who applied for prenatal screening or diagnosis tests.

Methods.  Women were interviewed by the researcher before they underwent prenatal screening or diagnostic procedures. Data were gathered through interviews using an interview form that addressed women's evaluations for causes of fear and their opinions towards the risk factors for congenital anomalies. Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory was used to assess parents’ anxiety before prenatal testing.

Results.  Anxiety scores of women and their partners were higher in invasive tests group and suspicious findings group. The possibility of a malformation detected and of it being missed were major concerns of women. Receiving insufficient information about the procedure, undergoing this test for the first time, smoking and lower education was associated with increased anxiety scores in women. Although women knew about some certain risk factors for congenital anomalies like drug use, smoking and malnutrition, their knowledge about other risks were not sufficient.

Conclusion.  Prenatal tests, both routine screening and prenatal diagnosis, cause anxiety for parents. Understanding women's concerns and awareness of risk factors are important for providing care and counselling.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurses can provide appropriate information and support at each step in the screening and diagnosis process so that parents’ psychological stress is minimised.

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