Aims: To develop consensus guidelines for unexpected news delivery in Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP) NHS settings.
Methods: A workshop was conducted to identify priorities and reach consensus on areas of contention. Contributors included interdisciplinary healthcare professionals, policy experts, representatives from third-sector organisations, lay experts and academic researchers (n = 28). Written and verbal feedback was used to draft initial guidance which was then circulated amongst the wider writing group (n = 39). Revisions were undertaken until consensus was reached.
Results: Consensus guidelines were developed outlining the behaviours and phrases which should be used during scans where unexpected findings are identified. Specific recommendations included that: honest and clear communication should be prioritised, even with uncertain findings; technical terms should be used, but these should be written down together with their lay interpretations; unless expectant parents use other terminology (e.g., ‘fetus’), the term ‘baby’ should be used as a default, even in early pregnancy; at the initial news disclosure, communication should focus on information provision. Expectant parents should not be asked to make decisions during the scan.
Conclusions: These recommendations can be used to develop and improve news delivery interventions in obstetric ultrasound settings.
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Judith Johnson, Tomasina Stacey, Gill Harrison & Hannah Beety
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