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Moral justification for the use of 'add-ons' in assisted reproductive technology: experts' views and experiences.

RESEARCH QUESTION: What factors do assisted reproductive terchnology (ART) providers take into account when they make decisions about offering 'add-ons'?

DESIGN: A qualitative analysis of interviews with 31 ART professionals, focusing on their views and experiences in relation to add-ons, including the factors that are considered when doctors make decisions about their use.

RESULTS: The participants reported that a range of considerations are taken into account when it comes to justifying the use of a particular add-on in a given circumstance, including the likelihood of benefit and harm, patients' perceived psychological needs and preferences, and organizational expectations. Importantly, patient preferences, psychological factors and low risk of harm appear to be stronger motivations than increasing the likelihood of a live birth or the desire to innovate.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that it cannot be taken for granted that add-ons and innovation are closely linked. One possible response to this would be regulatory reform; for example, only allowing 'unproven' add-ons to be used in the context of formal scientific evaluation. Alternatively, it could be made clear that add-ons that are not undergoing formal evaluation have more in common with other therapies lacking a clear evidence base, such as complementary and alternative medicines, than with conventional medical practice. Practices in relation to add-ons may also require a focus on the responsibilities of corporations, and the standards applying to purveyors of consumer goods and services.

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