Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Patient Educ Couns. 2001 Apr;43(1):73-84.

Psychological response to prenatal genetic counseling and amniocentesis.

Author information

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.


The purpose of the present study was to characterize the psychological status (attitudes toward selective abortion, perceived risk, comprehension, patient satisfaction, coping, and state anxiety) of pregnant women at increased risk for fetal genetic anomalies who were referred for prenatal genetic counseling and amniocentesis; to determine which of these factors would predict amniocentesis use; and to identify patient outcomes associated with counseling and testing. Participants were 129 women aged 18 years and older who had one or more fetal genetic risk factors. All were recruited from an urban women's health clinic. The results revealed elevated perceptions of risk and moderate state anxiety despite adequate comprehension of, and patient satisfaction with, the process and content of genetic counseling. Approximately 78% agreed to testing; those who consented were more likely to hold favorable attitudes toward abortion than those who refused. Post-counseling, women experienced decrease in their perceived risk of having a baby born with a birth defect although perceived risk estimates remained higher than actual risks. Anxiety was clinically elevated and highest at the pre-counseling stage, though it dissipated to normal levels over time. Previous experience with prenatal diagnostic testing, increased perceived risk of a birth anomaly, and favorable attitudes toward abortion were independently associated with increased pre-counseling anxiety. Women who were more anxious pre-counseling remained more anxious post-counseling. Coping (high versus low monitoring) was unrelated to anxiety. These findings suggest that women who participate in prenatal counseling and testing may be subject to experience distress and unrealistic perceptions of their risk and may benefit from interventions designed to lessen these states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center