Am J Med Genet A. 2024 Apr 15:e63619. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.63619. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

A 2003 survey revealed the scope of mothers’ dissatisfaction with their postnatal support following a diagnosis of Down syndrome (DS). Substantial proportions of mothers reported that providers conveyed diagnoses with pity, emphasized negative aspects of DS, and neglected to provide adequate materials explaining DS. This study follows up on the 2003 survey by assessing whether parents’ experiences have improved. Four DS nonprofit organizations, which participated in the original study, distributed a mixed-methods survey to families who have had children with DS between 2003 and 2022. Quantitative analysis assessed correlations among responses and differences between the 2003 and 2022 survey groups. Open-ended responses were qualitatively analyzed. Compared to the 2003 findings, parents’ perceptions of their postnatal care have not improved (N = 89). Parents are increasingly likely to report that their providers pitied them, omitted positive aspects of DS, and provided insufficient materials describing DS. Substantial proportions of parents reported fear (77%) and anxiety (79%), only 24% described receiving adequate explanatory materials, and parents were 45% likelier to report that physicians discussed negative aspects of DS than positive aspects. Qualitatively, substantial numbers of parents recounted insensitive conduct by providers. These results suggest that despite interventions, parents’ experiences of postnatal diagnoses of DS have not improved over time. Certain provider behaviors-such as describing positive aspects of DS and providing comprehensive explanatory materials-can reduce fear and anxiety, pointing to directions for reform.

PMID:38619097 | DOI:10.1002/ajmg.a.63619