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Effect of Male Partner’s Involvement in a Woman’s Prenatal Decision-Making Process


During the prenatal genetic counseling session, women are given various genetic testing options to evaluate the health of their pregnancy and often seek advice from their male partner whether testing, and which test, should be chosen. Past studies have examined how women make prenatal genetic testing decisions, but little has been studied regarding how the male partner assesses prenatal genetic testing, or the effect of the male partner’s involvement in genetic testing decisions. 30 women who came alone and 55 couples at two sites were surveyed following their genetic counseling appointment regarding their genetic testing decisions and were asked to rank the importance of various factors affecting their decisions. Women alone were significantly less likely to be married, more likely to act as the primary decision-maker during pregnancy and reported that their male partner’s impact on the genetic testing decision was lower. According to this study, women presenting for prenatal genetic counseling alone, regardless of why they came alone, are more likely to be confident making decisions independently of their partners. Therefore, prenatal genetic counselors should focus on how these women make decisions autonomously. Women presenting with their partners will rely more heavily on a shared decision-making model, incorporating their male partner’s concerns. Within these couples, men are most concerned about the cost of testing or insurance worries, while women are more likely to be concerned about the pain or risk of any invasive testing. Prenatal genetic counselors can use these factors to direct shared decision-making between the couple.

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