Applying decision analysis to facilitate informed decision making about prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome: a randomised controlled trial

Prenat Diagn. 2004 Apr;24(4):265-75. doi: 10.1002/pd.851.


Objective: To evaluate decision analysis as a technique to facilitate women's decision-making about prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome using measures of effective decision-making.

Design: Randomised controlled trial in a UK hospital's prenatal diagnosis clinic.

Intervention: Routine versus routine consultation structured by decision analysis.

Participants: 117/132 women receiving a screen-positive maternal serum screening result participated (58 routine, 59 decision analysis).

Methods: Consultations were audio tape-recorded, transcribed and coded; questionnaires were completed after the consultation and one month later after receipt of a diagnostic test and/or the 19-week scan result.

Main measures: Test decision, subjective expected utilities, knowledge, informed decision-making, risk perception, decisional conflict, anxiety, perceived usefulness and directiveness of consultation information.

Results: 48/59 in the decision-aided group and 47/58 in the routine group underwent prenatal diagnosis. Informed decision-making was higher, perceived risk more realistic and decisional conflict over time lower in the decision analysis group. Decision analysis had no impact on knowledge or SEU scores, and was no more or no less directive, useful or anxiety provoking than the routine care. Consultations were six minutes longer.

Conclusions: Decision analysis consultations enable women to make more informed prenatal diagnosis decisions. Professionals will need training to use this technique effectively.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Counseling
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Down Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires