, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 109-117

How do Obstetric Providers Discuss Referrals for Prenatal Genetic Counseling?

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To investigate referrals of pregnant women to genetic counseling, we analysed transcripts from audiotaped first prenatal visits of 104 patients (72 actual patient visits and 32 simulated patient visits) with 32 providers (obstetricians and nurse-midwives). All patients had at least one indication for referral. Only 10% of visits with actual patients included a genetic counseling referral. When genetic counseling was discussed, it was only briefly described, primarily as an information session. This study shows that the majority of pregnant women with an indication for referral for genetic counseling are not referred. In addition, obstetric providers’ inadequate descriptions of prenatal genetic counseling may result in women being poorly prepared for genetic counseling sessions.