Prenatal diagnosis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia: Parental counselling and support needs

Prenat Diagn. 2022 Mar;42(3):387-397. doi: 10.1002/pd.6118. Epub 2022 Feb 24.


Objective: To define the dimensions of patient-centeredness of prenatal care for parents who had a fetus with isolated congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) by exploring their values, experiences, needs and preferences.

Methods: In-depth interviews with parents who were faced with the prenatal diagnosis of isolated CDH.

Results: Interviews (n = 18) identified seven dimensions of patient-centeredness. Parental preferences are respected by unconditional acceptance of parental choices and needs. After diagnosis access to care should occur by swift referral to a specialised centre to prevent parents receiving contradictory information. Information and education help parents to gain some sense of control and cope with the many uncertainties. A multidisciplinary team with a coordinating professional is perceived supportive (coordination and integration), and seamless referral between local and treatment centres reduces parental distress (continuity and transition). Family-centred emotional support helps parents to cope with emotions and distress. Informal support by involvement of family and friends and trusted peer-support is of added value.

Conclusion: The impact of the uncertainty of outcome in this condition is tremendous and needs to be considered when providing prenatal care. After initial diagnosis, one should avoid speculation about the severity of the condition and outcome, and provide swift referral to a specialist centre expert in managing CDH. Provision of realistic and comprehensive information helps parents cope. Multidisciplinary and continuous support throughout the full trajectory, but also integrated psychosocial support should become standard-of-care.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital* / diagnosis
  • Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis