OBJECTIVE: This study explores ambivalence toward undergoing amniocentesis among pregnant women with overall positive attitudes. Its novelty lies in the characterization of the type and origins of the ambivalence.
METHOD: Thirty-six women between 35 and 44 years of age were recruited from a US prenatal testing center to participate in structured telephone interviews.
RESULTS: Thirty women chose to undergo testing. Attitudes toward undergoing amniocentesis were generally positive, although all participants simultaneously described feeling ambivalent. The women desired the information that amniocentesis could provide yet did not want to place their fetus at risk. Participants cited religious, moral, ethical and intellectual values important in shaping their attitudes toward undergoing amniocentesis. Important referents such as partners, other pregnant women, family members and physicians influenced their decisions.
CONCLUSION: Tensions were evident among the intellectual, moral and spiritual values that contribute to ambivalence toward undergoing amniocentesis. Illuminating and discussing such tensions during the genetic counseling sessions prior to testing may resolve some of this ambivalence and thereby increase the quality of decisions women make.