Parents' perspectives on decision making after antenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease

Gwen R. Rempel, Loryle M. Cender, M. Judith Lynam, George G. Sandor, Duncan Farquharson

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    58 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To discover and describe how prospective parents make decisions when they learn of their baby's congenital heart disease (CHD) during pregnancy, and to provide professionals with direction for their interactions with these families. Design and method: Qualitative analysis informed by symbolic interactionism. Setting: A tertiary care women's health center that provided referral services for a province with a population of 4 million. Participants: Mothers and fathers of 19 babies with antenatally diagnosed CHD participated in interviews during pregnancy and after the birth of their baby. Thirty-four interviews were analyzed for common themes and distinguishing characteristics of antenatal decision making. Results: Parents approached their antenatal decisions regarding further testing and continuation of the pregnancy as their first parenting decisions. They made their decisions with differing degrees of apparent ease or deliberation, and some parents more readily sought the opinion of professionals. The offered opinions offended some parents, even though the professionals may have intended the information as descriptive of options, not suggestive of a particular decision. Conclusion: Although advances in technology have enabled diagnosis of CHD antenatally, health care professionals, including nurses, must elicit each parent's particular perspective, be cognizant of their professional influence, and actively support parents from the time of the antenatal diagnosis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)64-70
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Antenatal diagnosis
    • Congenital heart disease
    • Decision making
    • Fetal cardiology


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