Psychological impacts of fetal echocardiography referral and results on the expecting parents

The trajectory of care of pregnant women with a higher risk of having a fetus with a congenital heart disease varies from province to province. Some are referred for a fetal echocardiogram in accordance with current American recommendations, while others are not.

The aim is to quantify the anxiety experienced by the expecting parents caused by a referral for a fetal echocardiography and its results in the setting of a normal 2nd trimester ultrasound. The expecting parents will have to complete online questionnaires, which contain the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), a validated measure that is designed to differentiate anxiety related to the personality of the individual from anxiety that is related to an external experience. Also, patient reported experience measures, such as the level of understanding of the indication for the referral and the level of understanding of the results of the fetal echocardiogram, will be explored.

This is a prospective observational multicenter cross-sectional study. Expecting parents will be enrolled in Quebec and Ontario. Results will enable the designing of more informed and evidence-based recommendations and thus harmonize the guidelines for prenatal congenital heart disease screening strategies around Canada, specifically for the use of fetal echocardiogram as a screening tool for higher-risk pregnancies with normal 2nd trimester ultrasound.

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