Infertile couples' assessment of infertility treatment

L Schmidt
Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 1998, 77 (6): 649-53

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to describe infertile patients' experiences and assessment of infertility treatment.

METHODS: Sixteen couples undergoing infertility treatment at the Fertility Clinic, Herlev Hospital in Copenhagen County. Denmark, were interviewed using a semi-structured qualitative interview. The participants were selected by purposeful sampling with maximum variation. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed in full. Data were analyzed by the Grounded theory method.

RESULTS: Infertility patients preferred treatment that was organized in a separate clinic where there were only a few staff-members, proceeded without waiting time, and followed a plan known to both the doctor and the couple. Satisfaction or dissatisfaction with treatment was not related to length of infertility, sex, or social class. Surprisingly, assessment of treatment was not related to either outcome or type of treatment. The participants experienced infertility treatment as a psychological strain and they felt that their emotional needs were not met in the health care system. The desire for services from the health care system was related to how the participants managed their infertility problem in relation to other people. The more open-minded the participant was, the more was expected from the professionals. These participants wanted detailed information about technical aspects of infertility and treatment as well as psychosocial and sexual advice and support.

CONCLUSION: The public health care system does not meet the needs of infertile couples for information, psychological and sexual counselling, and discussions of alternative ways of becoming parents. High-quality treatment has to consider the patients' different needs and ensure successful pregnancies as well.

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