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Attitudes Towards Prenatal Genetic Counseling, Prenatal Genetic Testing, and Termination of Pregnancy among Southeast and East Asian Women in the United States.


Recognizing the heterogeneity of the Asian population with regards to acculturation, education, health awareness, and cultural values is vital for tailoring culturally sensitive and appropriate care. Prior studies show that cultural values influence perceptions of genetics within Asian populations. The reputation of the family unit factors into decisions such as pregnancy termination and disclosure of family medical history, and the nondirective model of American genetic counseling may conflict with the historical Asian model of paternalistic health care. Previous studies also provide conflicting evidence regarding correlations between education, acculturation, age, and awareness and perceptions of genetic testing. The aims of this study were to describe attitudes towards prenatal genetics among Southeast and East Asian women living in the United States for varying amounts of time and to explore sociocultural factors influencing those attitudes. Twenty-three Asian women who were members of Asian cultural organizations in the United States were interviewed via telephone about their attitudes towards prenatal genetic counseling, prenatal genetic testing, and termination of pregnancy. Responses were transcribed and coded for common themes using a thematic analysis approach. Four major themes emerged. In general, participants: (1) had diverse expectations for genetic counselors; (2) tended to weigh risks and benefits with regards to genetic testing decisions; (3) had mixed views on termination for lethal and non-lethal genetic conditions; and (4) identified cultural factors which influenced testing and termination such as lack of available resources, societal shame and stigma, and family pressure. These findings may allow prenatal genetic counselors to gain a richer, more nuanced understanding of their Asian patients and to offer culturally tailored prenatal genetic counseling.