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Lack of knowledge in health professionals: a barrier to providing information to patients?
  1. D K Smith,
  2. J Slack,
  3. R W Shaw,
  4. T M Marteau
  1. United Medical and Dental Schools (UMDS), Guy's Campus, London.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE--To assess obstetricians' and midwives' knowledge of routine prenatal screening tests for fetal abnormality and factors associated with such knowledge. DESIGN--Questionnaire assessment of antenatal clinic staff. SETTING--Six hospitals within the United Kingdom (four district general hospitals in London, one district general hospital in Wales, and one teaching hospital in Wales), offering routine prenatal screening tests. SUBJECTS--29 obstetricians and 97 midwives were invited to participate, of whom 21 and 70 respectively responded to the questionnaire. MAIN MEASURES--Knowledge of prenatal tests, according to 19 item multiple choice questionnaire, reluctance to disclose uncertainty, and clinical experience. RESULTS--The overall response rate was 72% (91/126). In all, 43% of midwives and 14% of obstetricians obtained correct responses on fewer than half the items. Reluctance to disclose uncertainty to patients was associated in obstetricians with having less knowledge about prenatal testing (r = -0.50; p < 0.025, Pearson product moment correlation) and in midwives with more clinical experience (r = 0.43; p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS--Lack of knowledge and greater clinical experience seem to be important barriers to providing patients with information about prenatal screening tests.

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