Informed consent for maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening in an inner city population: how informed is it?

M. C. Freda, N. DeVore, N. Valentine-Adams, A. Bombard, I. R. Merkatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine if women who received information from a provider and viewed a videotape about maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) screening understood enough to sign informed consent. DESIGN: A prospective qualitative design using tape recorded interviews of women who were provided information regarding MSAFP testing from a provider and from viewing a videotape. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-three inner city pregnant women (58% Hispanic, 39% African-American, 3% white). RESULTS: Two women answered all questions correctly; no one answered all questions incorrectly. Sixty-two percent correctly answered "What is MSAFP?" Sixteen percent thought "something has to be taken from my belly" for the test. Fifty-nine percent understood that children with spina bifida could have difficulty walking or urinary problems. Seventy-two percent thought their infant would be healthy in all respects if the test was negative. Only 45% could describe the follow-up to a positive test. Eighty percent planned to have the test. Many misconceptions were apparent, and for some knowledge items, as many as 80% of the women answered incorrectly. CONCLUSIONS: Obtaining truly informed consent for a complex test is not a simple process. Participants met a few, but not all, of the criteria for informed consent. Women understood that the test was voluntary, but their comprehension of the meaning and implication of a positive test results was deficient. Despite this, they signed the informed consent document. The larger question of just how much comprehension is required to consider a woman "informed" has not been answered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of obstetric, gynecologic, and neonatal nursing : JOGNN / NAACOG
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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