Information provision in fertility care: a call for improvement

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Adequate information provision is a crucial dimension of high-quality fertility care. Clinical practice guidelines containing consensus-based recommendations may standardize practice between settings. This study was designed for three purposes: (i) to assess actual adherence to recommendations on information provision, (ii) to measure patient satisfaction with current practice and (iii) to analyse how variation in adherence relates to the characteristics of patients and clinics.

METHODS

All recommendations concerning patient information were extracted from 10 national fertility guidelines and edited into a patient questionnaire. Additional questions concerning patient satisfaction and potential determinants of information provision at patient level were included. A total of 2698 couples from 16 clinics were invited to participate. A professional's questionnaire was sent to all gynaecologists to gather potential determinants at clinic level. Multilevel regression analysis was performed to identify the determinants of information provision.

RESULTS

A total of 1499 couples (56%) participated. The percentage of couples who reported to have received complete information varied between recommendations from 10 to 96% (mean 57%). Overall, 94% of couples were satisfied with fertility services. The use of checklists for information provision, the presence of obstetrics/gynaecology residents and specialized nursing personnel, and higher patient anxiety scores were significantly associated (P < 0.05) with higher levels of information received.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the possibility of recall bias in questionnaire studies and observed high patient satisfaction with fertility services, we conclude that information provision for infertile couples is currently poor and in need of improvement. This could easily be procured by, for example, the use of information checklists.

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