Recommendations for effective newborn screening communication: results of focus groups with parents, providers, and experts

Pediatrics. 2006 May;117(5 Pt 2):S326-40. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-2633M.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to determine parent and provider knowledge and awareness of newborn screening; to gather opinions from parents, providers, and newborn screening professionals about the content and timing of newborn screening education; and to use consensus data to formulate recommendations and to develop educational materials for parents and providers.

Methods: We conducted 22 focus groups and 3 individual interviews between October 2003 and May 2004, with English- and Spanish-speaking parents of infants <1 year of age who had experience with initial testing, retesting, or false-positive screenings; health professionals who provide prenatal care or health care for newborns; and state newborn screening program health professionals.

Results: Parents and providers had limited knowledge and awareness about newborn screening practices. Parents wanted brief to-the-point information on newborn screening and its benefits, including the possible need for retesting and the importance of returning promptly for retesting if initial results are abnormal. Parents wanted the information orally from the primary care provider. Parents, providers, and newborn screening professionals all thought that an accompanying concise, easy-to-read brochure with contact information would be helpful. All focus group participants thought that parents should receive this information before the birth of the infant, preferably in the third trimester of pregnancy. Providers wanted a brief checklist of information and resources to prepare them to educate parents effectively.

Conclusions: We recommend prenatal and primary care providers be more involved in educating parents about newborn screening. Professional societies and state health officials should work together to encourage parent and provider education. User-friendly patient and provider education materials, such as those we developed, could form the basis for this educational approach.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Focus Groups
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Education* / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening* / standards
  • Parents
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • United States