BACKGROUND: In recent decades there have been advances in the options for prenatal screening. Screening programmes for Down syndrome are well established in many countries. It is important that pregnant women are well informed about the benefits and risks of screening. A variety of interventions has been introduced to support pregnant women in their choice of prenatal screening.
OBJECTIVE: To summarize the literature using randomized controlled trials to compare the effects of different interventions to provide pregnant women with the information necessary to make an informed choice about screening for Down syndrome.
DESIGN: Systematic review.
METHODS: A systematic search was performed using the PUBMED and EMBASE databases. The search terms included MeSH terms and free text and were combined by Boolean terms (AND, OR) with no restriction on language or time.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Knowledge, informed choice, patient satisfaction, anxiety, depression, conflict and worries.
RESULTS: Twelve studies were included in the review. All were characterised by having one or more interventions designed to improve the level of information about prenatal screening for Down syndrome. A positive effect on knowledge and satisfaction from the information received was found in the majority of the studies. The studies were heterogeneous with respect to interventions, methodology and outcome measurements.
CONCLUSIONS: Interventions aimed at providing pregnant women with specific information about prenatal screening for Down syndrome can improve their ability to make an informed choice.