Doctors Urged To Offer Options, Avoid ‘I’m Sorry’ When Delivering a Diagnosis
Women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are happiest when they were prepared for the news and provided as much information as possible, new research finds.
In a study of doctors and patients, researchers looked at how people are given the news a of prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. The findings, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, indicate that women who chose to have prenatal testing for Down syndrome were best prepared to hear about a diagnosis if test results were given during an arranged call, rather than unexpectedly.
Furthermore, the study finds that doctors should discuss all options with expectant mothers including continuing the pregnancy, offering the baby for adoption and termination.
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Doctors should not say, “I’m sorry” or “I have some bad news,” but should maintain a neutral tone, the study found. And, women prefer if they are given the option to speak with the parent of a child with Down syndrome to learn about the realities of having a child with the chromosomal disorder.
“Nearly all mothers reported feelings of initial shock, anger and fear following the diagnosis,” says Dr. Brian Skotko from Children’s Hospital Boston who was the lead researcher on the study. “Yet, these same mothers indicated that if physicians were to implement a few simple measures, as research suggests, the experience could be more sensitive to their emotions and needs.”