Attitudes of health care professionals toward carrier screening for cystic fibrosis. A review of the literature

J Community Genet. 2014 Jan;5(1):13-29. doi: 10.1007/s12687-012-0131-z. Epub 2012 Dec 29.


Recent technological developments in molecular genetics facilitate the large-scale detection of inherited genetic disorders and allow an increasing number of genetic conditions to be screened for (American College of Medical Genetics 2012). This technological evolution creates the background which makes reflection necessary about the desirability to offer community-based (preconception) carrier screening in the healthcare system. A positive attitude of potential providers is vital to the success of a screening program. Therefore, the objective of this article is to elaborate a review of the attitudes of healthcare professionals toward carrier screening. Examination of existing carrier screening programs could provide such information. The literature review will be focused on the attitudes toward carrier screening for cystic fibrosis (CF). The databases Pubmed and Web of Science, as well as the interface Google Scholar, were searched using the keywords for the period 1990-2011. Studies were selected if they were published in a peer-reviewed journal in English and described the attitudes of potential providers toward carrier screening. Eleven studies were retrieved describing the attitudes toward carrier screening for CF. In total, seven studies reported attitudes toward the best time for carrier screening; four studies described opinions toward the best setting to offer CF carrier screening; six studies investigated the willingness to be involved in a carrier screening program, and in total 11 articles reported the concerns about offering carrier screening. Ten papers described a general attitude toward carrier screening. We can conclude that health care providers state willingness to be involved in a carrier screening program, but there is need for appropriate education as well as adequate support given the time constraints already present in consultation. The prospect of an increasing number of genetic disorders for which screening becomes possible, and the potential increasing demand for such screening in the future calls for the need for further debate on the desirability of carrier screening and relevant questions such as the conditions screened, the providers involved, the information provision, and counseling.