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Female and male physicians' attitudes toward prenatal diagnosis: A Pan-Canadian survey


  • Bouchard, Louise
  • Renaud, Marc


Despite widespread use over the past 20 years, prenatal diagnosis (PND) remains a controversial technique because of the moral and organizational dilemmas that it raises in many countries. In order to assess attitudes to PND within the Canadian medical profession, a survey was carried out involving over 3000 physicians offering PND (general practitioners, obstetricians, pediatricians, and radiologists). Several scales were developed to measure (1) physicians' willingness to broaden access to PND, (2) acceptability of abortion when a fetal anomaly is diagnosed, and (3) physicians' directiveness in regard to abortion. This article discusses results concerning the attitudes and opinions of male and female physicians toward prenatal diagnosis, which differed on the three scales. Female physicians are more liberal than their male colleagues with regard to access to amniocentesis and selective abortion and have a less directive relationship with their patients. These tendencies are similar to those observed in prior studies. They are particularly marked for general practitioners and radiologists. Various explanatory hypotheses are examined.

Suggested Citation

  • Bouchard, Louise & Renaud, Marc, 1997. "Female and male physicians' attitudes toward prenatal diagnosis: A Pan-Canadian survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 381-392, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:3:p:381-392

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