Anxiety, knowledge and satisfaction in women receiving false positive results on routine prenatal screening: a randomized controlled trial

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1993 Sep;14(3):185-96. doi: 10.3109/01674829309084441.


The majority of women receiving an abnormal result on routine prenatal screening subsequently give birth to unaffected children. Previous studies have documented high levels of anxiety in women receiving such false positive results. In an attempt to reduce this anxiety, two methods of preparing women for undergoing such testing were compared: provision of detailed written information about maternal-serum alpha-fetoprotein testing; and anxiety management training. Eligible women were randomly allocated to one of five groups. Eighty-five women subsequently received false positive results on routine alpha-fetoprotein testing. There was some evidence that completing the study questionnaires had an anxiety-reducing effect. In contrast with the results of previous studies, there was no evidence that receipt of an abnormal alpha-fetoprotein result resulted in raised anxiety. Neither of the interventions, alone or in combination, had an effect upon anxiety following an abnormal alpha-fetoprotein result. Receipt of detailed written information however, led to women having more knowledge and being more satisfied with the amount of information that they had. One in three of the class groups reported that the classes had influenced the way they had dealt with worries. Although the interventions did not reduce anxiety in this study, there are other reasons for considering their incorporation into routine clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers / education
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • alpha-Fetoproteins