Demographic and Experiential Correlates of Public Attitudes Towards Cell-Free Fetal DNA Screening

Lauren C. Sayres, Megan Allyse, Taylor A. Goodspeed, Mildred K. Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study seeks to inform clinical application of cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) screening as a novel method for prenatal trisomy detection by investigating public attitudes towards this technology and demographic and experiential characteristics related to these attitudes. Two versions of a 25-item survey assessing interest in cffDNA and existing first-trimester combined screening for either trisomy 13 and 18 or trisomy 21 were distributed among 3,164 members of the United States public. Logistic regression was performed to determine variables predictive of interest in screening options. Approximately 47 % of respondents expressed an interest in cffDNA screening for trisomy 13, 18, and 21, with a majority interested in cffDNA screening as a stand-alone technique. A significantly greater percent would consider termination of pregnancy following a diagnosis of trisomy 13 or 18 (52 %) over one of trisomy 21 (44 %). Willingness to consider abortion of an affected pregnancy was the strongest correlate to interest in both cffDNA and first-trimester combined screening, although markedly more respondents expressed an interest in some form of screening (69 % and 71 %, respectively) than would consider termination. Greater educational attainment, higher income, and insurance coverage predicted interest in cffDNA screening; stronger religious identification also corresponded to decreased interest. Prior experience with disability and genetic testing was associated with increased interest in cffDNA screening. Several of these factors, in addition to advanced age and Asian race, were, in turn, predictive of respondents’ increased willingness to consider post-diagnosis termination of pregnancy. In conclusion, divergent attitudes towards cffDNA screening—and prenatal options more generally – appear correlated with individual socioeconomic and religious backgrounds and experiences with disability and genetic testing. Clinical implementation and counseling for novel prenatal technologies should take these diverse stakeholder values into consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-967
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 16 2014

Keywords

  • Cell-free fetal DNA
  • Non-invasive prenatal screening
  • Non-invasive prenatal testing
  • Prenatal genetic counseling
  • Public attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)

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