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J Cyst Fibros. 2019 Sep;18(5):614-621. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 Apr 30.

International approaches for delivery of positive newborn bloodspot screening results for CF.

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City, University of London, London EC1V 0HB, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202, United States. Electronic address:
Children's Hospital of Eastern Switzerland, St. Gallen, Switzerland. Electronic address:
University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, United Kingdom. Electronic address:



Newborn bloodspot screening (NBS) for cystic fibrosis (CF) is a well-established public health strategy with international standards. A European survey demonstrated considerable variability in approach to delivering a positive NBS result. We used a mixed methods approach to explore healthcare systems and beliefs around this process.


We used semi-structured interviews and online questionnaires with a purposive, international sample of health professionals involved in communicating positive NBS results to parents. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and Qualtrics Survey Software.


In total, 63 healthcare professionals were approached; 25 interviews were conducted with delegates at the 2017 ECFS conference, 4 online questionnaires were subsequently completed by participants in the EU, 1 from Australia and 33 from the US. Methods used to communicate positive NBS results to families varied considerably. This influenced the quality and quantity of information provided which had the potential to heighten anxiety and affect timely diagnostic testing. Participants identified positive practices including systems to improve the timeliness of screening and processing of results, as well as areas for improvement. Respondents stated that knowledge of CF and familiarity with the family were both important when deciding who should communicate positive NBS results.


Guidance and practice regarding communication of positive NBS results for CF to families varies considerably internationally. Further research is needed to ensure information received is accurate, up-to-date and from the most appropriate person. Also, that all children are followed up in a timely manner to minimise potential negative outcomes for the child and family.


Communication; Cystic fibrosis; Newborn bloodspot screening

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