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Hum Reprod. 2011 Mar;26(3):646-54. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deq368. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Decisional conflict and the disposition of frozen embryos: implications for informed consent.

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  • 1Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240, USA. alyerly@email.unc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Fertility patients often struggle with decisions about disposition of embryos remaining after fertility treatment. We aimed to identify predictors and correlates of decisional conflict among patients facing these decisions.

METHODS:

We analyzed results from a survey of 2210 patients from nine geographically diverse US fertility clinics. The main outcome measure was decisional conflict about embryo disposition, as measured by the decisional conflict scale (DCS).

RESULTS:

Of 1244 respondents who returned the survey, 1005 with cryopreserved embryos and DCS scores were included in the analysis. Of the respondents, 39% reported high decisional conflict (DCS ≥ 37.5). Thoughts about future childbearing were associated with high decisional conflict: respondents who were either uncertain about whether to have a baby in the future or sure they did not want to have a baby were at higher odds of high decisional conflict than participants who desired a baby [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.93, P < 0.001 and aOR = 1.69, P = 0.04, respectively]. Also associated with high decisional conflict were being likely to have embryos thawed and discarded (aOR = 2.08, P < 0.001), donated for research (aOR = 1.66, P = 0.01) or frozen 'forever' (aOR = 1.90, P = 0.01); being likely to choose compassionate transfer if it were available (aOR = 1.65, P = 0.03); attributing high, but not full, moral status to human embryos; not having enough information; and not being satisfied with the informed consent process.

CONCLUSIONS:

Decisional conflict about frozen embryo disposition differs according to reproductive preferences that may vary according to stage of treatment. Informed consent for embryo disposition should be revisited periodically, with serious discussions about disposition after childbearing is complete.

PMID:
21216789
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3037793
Free PMC Article
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