Attitudes toward the prenatal diagnosis of cystic fibrosis: factors in decision making among affected families

Am J Hum Genet. 1992 May;50(5):1077-85.


The objective of this study was to explore psychosocial factors underlying decisions about use of prenatal diagnosis for cystic fibrosis (CF), among parents of affected children. Anonymous survey questionnaires, supplemented by voluntary interviews, were used at 12 CF centers in six New England states, for a consecutive sample of families of minor children visiting CF centers during a 4-mo period. In all, 227 (71%) of 318 families responded. We hypothesized that attitudes toward utilization would be affected by (a) intentions to have children, (b) knowledge, (c) perception of risk, (d) the health of the child with CF, (e) expectations about the child's future, (f) attitudes toward abortion, (g) insurance, (h) genetic counseling, and (i) sociodemographic factors (including attendance at religious services). Of the 227 couples who responded, 69% were surgically sterile, over 45 years of age, widowed, or divorced, and 31% were at risk. Of 70 at-risk couples, 44% intended to have more children; of these, 77% had had or were considering CF prenatal diagnosis. Most families knew CF could be diagnosed prenatally; 20% would terminate for CF. Among intended prenatal diagnosis users, 44% would carry a fetus with CF to term, 28% would abort, and 28% were undecided. Stepwise logistic regression showed three variables significantly related to intentions to use prenatal diagnosis: (1) respondent's willingness to abort for CF (P less than .02, odds ratio 3.36), (2) respondent's siblings' approval of abortion for CF (P less than .03, odds ratio 2.99), and (3) respondent listed no accomplishments for the child with CF (P less than .09, odds ratio 3.01). The majority of affected families reject selective abortion for CF; many will curtail childbearing rather than use prenatal diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / psychology
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / psychology*
  • Psychology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires