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Hum Reprod Update. 2010 Sep-Oct;16(5):467-87. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmq004. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

The patients' perspective on fertility care: a systematic review.

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Leuven University Hospital, Leuven University Fertility Centre, Leuven, Belgium.



Patient-centered reproductive medicine (PCRM) is important for quality of care, and this is increasingly being recognized. However, its scientific basis is unclear. The main research questions addressed in this review are: 'How has the patients' perspective on fertility care been examined (method and quality)?' and 'What is the perspective of patients in developed countries on fertility care?'.


A systematic search of electronic databases was conducted and inclusion criteria with respect to eligibility and quality were applied. The methodology of the studies was critically appraised; the findings of the studies were synthesized and organized according to: patients' value clarification and assessment of service quality and dimensions of patient-centeredness. Additionally data on patient preferences and determinants of patients' perspective on care were collected.


In 51 selected studies, patients' perspective on fertility care was examined with (few or many item) questionnaires and/or qualitative interviews. Significant methodological problems were observed. Fertility patients attached importance to seven out of eight dimensions of patient-centeredness (Picker institute) and two new dimensions 'fertility clinic staff' and 'skills' were developed. Overall, fertility patients want to be treated like human beings with a need for: medical skills, respect, coordination, accessibility, information, comfort, support, partner involvement and a good attitude of and relationship with fertility clinic staff. Patients' preferences between procedures and demographic, medical and psychological determinants of their perspective were defined.


Fertility patients have 'human needs' besides their need for medical care. Evidence on PCRM is available but significant methodological limitations call for the development and validation of a European questionnaire.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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