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Psychol Health. 2010 Dec;25(10):1175-94. doi: 10.1080/08870440903055893.

The role of attitudes towards the targets of behaviour in predicting and informing prenatal testing choices.

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  • 1Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, UK.


Research considering the role of attitudes in prenatal testing choices has commonly focused on the relationship between the attitude towards undergoing testing and actual testing behaviour. In contrast, this study focused on the relationship between testing behaviour and attitudes towards the targets of the behaviour (in this case people with Down syndrome (DS) and having a baby with DS). A cross-sectional, prospective survey of 197 pregnant women measured attitudes towards the targets of prenatal testing along with intentions to use screening and diagnostic testing, and the termination of an affected pregnancy. Screening uptake was established via patient records. Although attitudes towards DS and having a baby with DS were significantly associated with screening uptake and testing and termination intentions, unfavourable attitudes were better than favourable ones at predicting these outcomes. For example, in the quartile of women with the 'most favourable' attitude towards people with DS 67% used screening although only 8% said they would terminate an affected pregnancy. Qualitative data suggested that not all women considered personal attitudes towards DS to be relevant to their screening decisions. This finding has implications for the way in which informed choice is currently understood and measured in the prenatal testing context.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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