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Title: Service users' and providers' understanding of probabilities in prenatal screening
Author: West, Helen Margaret
ISNI:       0000 0004 2672 4461
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2008
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Pregnant women are routinely offered serum screening tests for Down's syndrome, open neural tube defects and Edward's syndrome. Informed decisions rely on health professionals communicating probabilities, and service users understanding this information. However, cognitive psychology research has established that people do not draw mathematically correct inferences from probabilistic screening information. This thesis applies this theoretical research to the context of prenatal genetic screening. The empirical work involved presenting screening scenarios to prenatal screening service users and providers in different forms (prenatal/neutral context, frequency/percentage presentation), arid assessing the effect of these manipulations on participants' ability to estimate risk probabilities. The understanding of medical students, postgraduate students, pregnant women, partners and companions,midwives, and obstetricians was investigated. The majority of responses to the scenario were incorrect. Most respondents gave extreme under- or over-estimates (close to 0 or 100). Obstetricians gave significantly more correct responses to frequency scenarios than percentages scenarios, replicating past studies. Other participants gave significantly fewer correct answers overall, and were unaffected by the change from percentage to frequency information. The reasoning of midwives and service users had not previously been investigated, and this thesis indicates that there are fundamental differences in the ways that different groups interpret probabilities, creating potential communication barriers between stakeholders.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral