Deciding about fertility preservation after specialist counselling
until further notice
SourceHuman Reproduction, 29, 8, (2014), pp. 1721-1729
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 17: Women's cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 6: Metabolic Disorders RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
STUDY QUESTION: How do female patients experience fertility preservation (FP) consultation (FPC) with a specialist in reproductive medicine and subsequent decision-making on FP? SUMMARY ANSWER: Most patients had positive experiences with FPC, but negative experiences were found to be associated with decisional conflict and decision regret. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: When confronted with a need for gonadotoxic treatment, girls and young women will have to make an irreversible decision with regard to FP. Patients may experience decisional conflict and develop regret about their decision during follow-up. Patients' opportunities to ask questions during FPC and their knowledge about FP have been inversely related to decisional conflict. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: A questionnaire on experiences with FPC, designed after qualitative research, was retrospectively distributed to 108 patients to whom FP was offered after FPC between July 2008 and July 2013. Aiming to minimize recall bias, we defined a subgroup of patients counselled since 2011 who had not yet tried to conceive after FPC. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Patients were aged >/=16 years and had either cancer or a benign disease that required gonadotoxic therapy. They received FPC in a single university hospital in the Netherlands. Apart from patients' experiences, patients' characteristics, decisional conflict and decision regret were assessed. MAIN RESULTS AND ROLE OF CHANCE: A total of 64 patients (59.3%) responded to the questionnaire. Patients generally had positive experiences with FPC, but indicated room for improvement. Negative experiences were associated with decisional conflict regarding the FP decision (not enough time for counselling: P < 0.0001; not having the opportunity to ask all questions during FPC: P < 0.0001; not feeling supported by the counsellor during decision-making: P = 0.0003; not all applicable options were discussed: P = 0.0001; benefits and disadvantages of FP options were not clearly explained: P = 0.0005). Decisional conflict was correlated to decision regret (P < 0.0001). In the subgroup of patients counselled after 2011 who had not tried to conceive (n = 33), similar results as for the total study population were found for the association of patient experiences with decisional conflict. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Given our retrospective design, we were not informed about the causality of the associations observed. We studied Dutch patients who were counselled in a single centre and were at least 16 years old when filling in the questionnaire. This may limit the generalizability of our data to other settings and populations. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: More attention should be paid to improving FPC care. Interventions aiming at improving patients' comprehension of the topic of FP and their feelings of being supported in decision-making are advisable. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: This work was supported by the Radboud Institute for Health and an unconditional grant from Merck Serono. The authors have declared no conflicts of interest with respect to this work.
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