Rapid advances in genetic testing have improved the probability of successful genetic diagnosis. For couples who undergo a termination of pregnancy (TOP) due to foetal congenital malformations, these techniques may reveal the underlying cause and satisfy parents' need to know. The aim of this qualitative descriptive research study was to explore couples' experience of being recontacted after a congenital malformation-related TOP, as well as their reasons for participation. A retrospective cohort of 31 eligible candidates was recontacted for additional genetic testing using a standardized letter followed by a telephone call. Fourteen participants (45%) were included. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews at a hospital genetics department (UZ Brussel). Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. We found that despite the sometimes considerable length of time that passed since TOP, participants were still interested in new genetic testing. They appreciated that the initiative originated from the medical team, describing it as a "sensitive" approach. Both intrinsic (providing answers for themselves and their children) and extrinsic motivators (contributing to science and helping other parents) were identified as important factors for participation. These results show that participants often remain interested in being recontacted for new genetic testing such as whole genome sequencing, even after several years. As such, the results of this study can offer guidance in the more general current debate on recontacting patients in the field of genetics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Early online date12 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is part of the Igencare study financed by INNOVIRIS (Brussels institution for research and development). The funders had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to European Society of Human Genetics.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • congenital malformations
  • terminated pregnancy
  • parental experiences
  • genetic testing
  • TOP


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