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BACKGROUND: A newly introduced cell-free fetal DNA sequencing based non-invasive prenatal testing (DNA-NIPT) detects Down syndrome with sensitivity of 99% at early gestational stage without risk of miscarriage. Attention has been given to its public health implications; little is known from consumer perspectives. This qualitative study aimed to explore women's motivations for using, and perceptions of, DNA-NIPT in Hong Kong. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In-depth interviews were conducted with 45 women who had undertaken DNA-NIPT recruited by purposive sampling based on socio-demographic and clinical characteristics. The sample included 31 women identified as high-risk from serum and ultrasound based Down syndrome screening (SU-DSS). Thematic narrative analysis examined informed-decision making of the test and identified the benefits and needs. Women outlined a number of reasons for accessing DNA-NIPT: reducing the uncertainty associated with risk probability-based results from SU-DSS, undertaking DNA-NIPT as a comprehensive measure to counteract risk from childbearing especially at advanced age, perceived predictive accuracy and absence of risk of harm to fetus. Accounts of women deemed high-risk or not high-risk are distinctive in a number of respects. High-risk women accessed DNA-NIPT to get a clearer idea of their risk. This group perceived SU-DSS as an unnecessary and confusing procedure because of its varying, protocol-dependent detection rates. Those women not deemed high-risk, in contrast, undertook DNA-NIPT for psychological assurance and to reduce anxiety even after receiving the negative result from SU-DSS. CONCLUSIONS: DNA-NIPT was regarded positively by women who chose this method of screening over the routine, less expensive testing options. Given its perceived utility, health providers need to consider whether DNA-NIPT should be offered as part of universal routine care to women at high-risk for fetal aneuploidy. If this is the case, then further development of guidelines and quality assurance will be needed to provide a service suited to patients' needs.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0081794

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2013

Volume

8

Keywords

Adult, Aneuploidy, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Down Syndrome, Female, Fetus, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Hong Kong, Humans, Motivation, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Pregnancy, Prenatal Diagnosis, Sequence Analysis, DNA