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J Med Genet. 1994 Nov;31(11):864-7.

Counselling following diagnosis of a fetal abnormality: the differing approaches of obstetricians, clinical geneticists, and genetic nurses.

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  • 1Psychology and Genetics Research Group, UMDS, London, UK.


Women receiving a positive diagnosis of an abnormality during pregnancy may be counselled about a termination by one of several types of health professionals including obstetricians, geneticists, and genetic nurses. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that these groups differ in both their approaches to counselling and their attitudes towards abnormality. The aim of the current study is to document how genetic nurses, geneticists, and obstetricians describe their own counselling of women following the diagnosis of specific fetal abnormalities. Obstetricians reported counselling in a significantly more directive fashion than did geneticists, who in turn reported counselling in a more directive way than did genetic nurses. The extent to which the groups differed in their reported approaches varied across conditions. The most marked difference was evident for Down's syndrome: 94% of genetic nurses, 57% of geneticists, and 32% of obstetricians reported counselling non-directively. Future research needs to focus on what these different groups see as the objectives of counselling in this situation, how they actually counsel, and with what effects.

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