OBJECTIVES: To develop a nationwide, evidence-based framework to support prenatal counseling in extreme prematurity, focusing on organization, decision-making, content, and style aspects.
METHODS: A nationwide multicenter RAND–modified Delphi method study was performed between November 2016 and December 2017 in the Netherlands. Firstly, recommendations were extracted from literature and previous studies. Secondly, an expert panel (n = 21) with experienced parents, obstetricians, and neonatologists rated the recommendations on importance for inclusion in the framework. Thirdly, ratings were discussed in a consensus meeting. The final set of recommendations was approved and transformed into a framework.
RESULTS: A total of 101 recommendations on organization, decision-making, content, and style were included in the framework, including tools to support personalization. The most important recommendations regarding organization were to have both parents involved in the counseling with both the neonatologist and obstetrician. The shared decision-making model was recommended for deciding between active support and comfort care. Main recommendations regarding content of conversation were explanation of treatment options, information on survival, risk of permanent consequences, impossibility to predict an individual course, possibility for multiple future decision moments, and a discussion on parental values and standards. It was considered important to avoid jargon, check understanding, and provide a summary. The expert panel, patient organization, and national professional associations (gynecology and pediatrics) approved the framework.
CONCLUSIONS: A nationwide, evidence-based framework for prenatal counseling in extreme prematurity was developed. It contains recommendations and tools for personalization in the domains of organization, decision-making, content, and style of prenatal counseling.