Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Patient Fertility Care

Karen N. DSouza, Minerva Orellana, Alessandra J. Ainsworth, Gabrielle Cummings, Kirsten A. Riggan, Chandra C. Shenoy, Megan A. Allyse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare system have been widespread, with many institutions in the United States pausing elective procedures to redirect resources to critical care. Fertility care and assisted reproductive procedures were classified as elective procedures and similarly paused. We conducted qualitative interviews with patients and/or their partners (n = 25 female patients; n = 3 male partners) receiving care at a fertility clinic in the Midwest to understand patient appraisal of COVID-19 risk on the resumption of care following a month-long closure of an infertility clinic, and patient agreement with the clinic closure. Interview transcripts were thematically analyzed from a grounded theory approach. Study participants reported an increased sense of urgency due to the delay in fertility procedures. This urgency often superseded concerns of potential COVID-19 infection, motivating patients to continue fertility treatment during a pandemic. In hindsight, some participants did not agree with the clinic's closure and treatment cessation, feeling that these steps negatively interrupted time-sensitive reproductive goals. Patient responses highlight the need for additional resources to support decision-making during times of crisis. Triaging patients based on time-sensitivity of treatment instead of a total shutdown respects patient autonomy for continuing treatment amidst uncertain COVID-19-impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Patient Experience
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • bioethics
  • COVID-19
  • patient perspectives/narratives
  • qualitative methods
  • women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Leadership and Management
  • Health(social science)

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