Paediatrics (RCH) - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Exploration of antenatal β-thalassaemia carrier screening in Victoria, Australia
    Cousens, Nicole Elizabeth ( 2012)
    Currently there is no coordinated β-thalassaemia carrier screening program carried out in Australia. Unlike other genetic screening programs, this screening has been incorporated into routine healthcare practice. This is attributable to most women undergoing a full blood examination (FBE) at their initial prenatal visit, with a low mean corpuscular volume (MCV) or mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH) indicating that they may be a carrier, therefore triggering further β-thalassaemia diagnostic testing. Little is known about the processes currently applied across the different hospitals and practices within Australia to screen women for β-thalassaemia, as well as both women’s and healthcare professionals’ attitudes towards this screening process. To further understand the β-thalassaemia carrier screening process(es) undertaken within Victoria as well as the acceptability of this different approach to carrier screening, a qualitative study was carried out. This aimed to explore carriers’ and health professionals’ experiences of and attitudes towards the β-thalassaemia carrier screening process in Victoria. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 26 female carriers of β-thalassaemia who had been pregnant within 12 months prior to being interviewed, 10 carrier couples of β-thalassaemia, as well as 23 healthcare professionals who attend to women during the antenatal β-thalassaemia screening process. Data were analysed using inductive content analysis and process mapping. Findings revealed that women had undergone variable experiences while being identified as a carrier, with surprisingly more than half of the participants being made aware of their carrier status prior to pregnancy, at various ages. This was due to women having undergone FBEs for numerous reasons, other than thalassaemia screening specifically. Pre-pregnancy screening was seen to be preferable due to both women and healthcare professionals believing this to be the most suitable time for testing. Other women had only become aware of their carrier status during pregnancy. Variation was also seen amongst the screening processes carried out by the different healthcare professionals, with often little use of guidelines and lack of knowledge, which was often not believed to be ideal by healthcare professionals. This highlights a need for further education of healthcare professionals. Most of the women did not recall being informed about β-thalassemia before notification of their carrier status and therefore did not make a decision about being screened. They were generally satisfied, however, for doctors to make the decisions regarding tests conducted. The women however would have preferred to have been informed about the screening test before it was carried out. Insufficient information was also reported being provided to women after they were notified of their carrier status, leading to misconceptions and confusion. Even though most women did not provide informed consent, this variable thalassaemia carrier screening process incorporated into routine care was seen to be acceptable amongst this community who overall had positive attitudes. A greater emphasis, however, should be placed on information provision, both pre and post testing, as well as further education for healthcare professionals.