The current fertility preservation consultation model: are we adequately informing cancer patients of their options?

Hum Reprod. 2012 Aug;27(8):2413-9. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des188. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Background: There is very limited information about the amount of information that cancer patients retain after a fertility preservation (FP) consultation (FPC). Our objective was to assess patients' knowledge following FPC and to examine predictors of increased knowledge.

Methods: We conducted a multi-center, cross-sectional, web-based survey at academic IVF centers, including women aged 18-43 years seen for comprehensive FPC between April 2009 and December 2010. The primary outcome measure was a knowledge score designed to assess comprehension of FP options. Analysis was performed to assess which patient variables were associated with higher knowledge scores. A 13-item knowledge tool about FP was developed (Kuder-Richardson 20=0.64).

Result(s): Among 90 eligible subjects, 66 were successfully contacted and 52 completed the survey (79% response rate). Participant's median age was 30.7 (interquartile range (IQR) 24.9-36.9) years and most were Caucasian, college graduates, nulliparous and in a committed relationship. The median knowledge post-FPC score was 6 (IQR: 5-9). Higher knowledge scores were associated with a college education, higher income, a primary diagnosis of breast cancer, additional contact with the FP specialist following the initial FPC and use of specific reference websites such as Parity, marital status and completion of FP treatment were not associated with knowledge scores.

Conclusions: FP knowledge following comprehensive FPC remains limited. Modifications to the current single visit FPC, such as a standard follow-up visit or additional educational tools, may be needed to improve patient comprehension of complex FP treatment options. Further research is needed to validate the knowledge scale in broader populations of cancer patients receiving FPC.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fertility Preservation / methods*
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Internet
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pregnancy