Does labeling prenatal screening test results as negative or positive affect a woman's responses?

We tested whether adding interpretive labels (eg, "negative test") to prenatal genetic screening test results changes perceived risk and preferences for amniocentesis. STUDY DESIGN: Women (N = 1688) completed a hypothetical pregnancy scenario on the Internet. We randomly assigned participants into 2 groups: high risk of fetal chromosomal problems (12.5/1000) or low risk (2/1000). After prenatal screening, estimated risk was identical (5/1000) for all participants, but results were provided either alone or with interpretive labels. RESULTS: When receiving test results without labels, all participants react similarly. With labels, the participants who received "positive" or "abnormal" results reported a higher perceived risk (P < .001), greater worry (P < .001), and greater interest in amniocentesis (57% vs 37%; P < .001) than did the participants who received "negative" or "normal" results. CONCLUSION: Interpretive labels for test results can induce larger changes to a woman's risk perception and behavioral intention than can numeric results alone, which create decision momentum. This finding has broad clinical implications for patient-provider communication.

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