Is informed choice in prenatal testing universally valued? A population-based survey in Europe and Asia

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Informed choice has become an integral part of healthcare provision. We investigated the extent to which informed choice in the context of prenatal testing is universally valued.


The value attached to parental choice in prenatal testing and the perceived importance of significant others' views when making test decisions were assessed in a cross-sectional, descriptive study.

Sample and setting

Male and female participants from general population samples in six countries: the UK (n = 210), the Netherlands (n = 197), Italy (n = 200), Greece (n = 200), China (n = 200) and India (n = 199).


The questionnaires assessed values attached to parental involvement and the perceived importance of the views of significant others when making prenatal test decisions.

Main outcome measures

Attitudes towards parental choice and attitudes towards the importance of others' views were analysed by age, gender and education using Chi-squared tests, Analysis of Variances and multiple logistic regression.


The majority of respondents from Northern European countries believed that undergoing prenatal tests should reflect parental choice. Conversely, only a minority of respondents from Southern European and Asian countries advocated parental choice, with most expressing the belief that all pregnant women should have the procedure. The perceived importance of significant others' views when making test decisions also varied across countries: those in favour of parental choice perceived others' views as less important in the test decision. A preference for prenatal testing decisions to reflect an informed choice was predicted by (i) country and (ii) the perceived importance of significant others' views. Education, age and gender did not predict decisions.


The implications of these findings for policy and practice depend upon whether placing a low value on parental choice, but a high value on the others' views regarding prenatal testing is considered an informed choice. Further research is needed to determine whether cultural variation in values remains significant in a multicultural society.

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