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Keywords:

  • ethnic groups;
  • genetic screening;
  • sickle cell;
  • thalassaemia

Abstract

Objective  To describe the acceptability to women of being offered antenatal Sickle cell and Thalassaemia (SC&T) screening in primary and secondary care at the visit to confirm pregnancy; and to explore the implications of their views for participating in decisions about their health care.

Methods  Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-one ethnically diverse women registered at twenty-five general practices in two English inner-city Primary Care Trusts. The material was analysed thematically, using the method of constant comparison.

Results  Women generally welcomed the opportunity of early diagnosis, although they expected screening to confirm they were carrying a healthy child. Women felt general practitioners did not present antenatal screening as a choice, but they did not necessarily see this as a problem. Doctors were believed to be acting out of concern for the women’s well being.

Conclusions  Women were generally positive about being offered screening in primary care at the first visit to confirm pregnancy. To this extent it was acceptable to them, although this was largely informed by assumptions associated with being a ‘good mother’ rather than a straightforward enactment of informed choice, assumed by health-care policy. This represents the context in which women participate in decisions about their health care.