Understanding pregnant women's decision making concerning prenatal screening

M. van den Berg, D.R.M. Timmermans, D.L. Knol, J.T. van Eijk, D.J. de Smit, J.M.G. van Vugt, G.H. van der Wal

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Objective: This study is aimed at enhancing understanding prenatal screening decision making through testing a hypothesized decision model based on decision theory and health behavior theory. Design: We obtained questionnaires from 1,666 pregnant women who were offered prenatal screening for Down's syndrome. Path analysis (using LISREL) resulted in a final model with reasonable model fit, which was verified by split-sample cross-validation. Main outcome measures: These included perceived probability, perceived severity, attitude toward termination, response efficacy, attitude toward prenatal screening, subjective norm, child-related anxiety, and intention to undergo prenatal screening. Results: Attitude toward termination of pregnancy, perceived test efficacy, and subjective norm regarding the desirability of having prenatal screening determined a woman's attitude toward having a prenatal test. Anxiety was influenced by perceived risk and perceived severity of having a child with Down's syndrome, and by subjective norm, but this appeared to be a weak predictor of intention to test. Pregnant women with a positive attitude toward prenatal screening, and who perceived a subjective norm in favor of undergoing prenatal screening, showed a greater intention to have prenatal screening done. Conclusion: These findings suggest that more attention should be paid toward the values and social context of pregnant women during the counseling process. © 2008 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-437
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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