Cell-free fetal DNA testing: a pilot study of obstetric healthcare provider attitudes toward clinical implementation

Prenat Diagn. 2011 Nov;31(11):1070-6. doi: 10.1002/pd.2835. Epub 2011 Jul 27.


Objective: To provide a preliminary assessment of obstetric healthcare provider opinions surrounding implementation of cell-free fetal DNA testing.

Methods: A 37-question pilot survey was used to address questions around the translation and use of non-invasive prenatal testing using cell-free fetal DNA. The survey was distributed and collected at a Continuing Medical Education course on obstetrics and gynecology.

Results: Of 62 survey respondents, 73% were female and 87% held MD/DO degrees. Respondents generally agreed that patients want prenatal diagnostic information to help make decisions about a pregnancy and that cell-free fetal DNA testing would encourage the testing of more patients for more conditions. However, there was an overall lack of knowledge or conviction about using this technology. Genetic counseling and professional society approval were deemed important to implementation, whereas the possibility of direct-to-consumer testing and government regulation produced mixed responses. Respondents indicated that they would be more likely to offer cell-free fetal DNA testing for chromosomal abnormalities and single-gene disorders, but would be cautious with respect to determination of sex and behavioral or late-onset conditions.

Conclusion: Preliminary assessment indicates uncertainty among obstetric providers about the details of implementing cell-free fetal DNA testing and suggests expanded research on perspectives of this stakeholder group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • DNA / analysis*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Diseases / genetics
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Testing / economics
  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Midwives
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Obstetrics / economics
  • Obstetrics / education
  • Obstetrics / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / economics
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / ethics
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Genetic Markers
  • DNA