1. Theroux, Rosemary PhD, WHNP-BC
  2. Violette, Cathy DNP, WHNP-BC, AWHC-RNC


Background: The prenatal diagnosis of a fetal anomaly is unexpected, creating a family crisis. Expectant parents are at an increased risk for perinatal depression and traumatic stress. Prior reviews examined parents' experiences when terminating but not continuing the pregnancy. This review synthesized qualitative research to describe the experiences, emotional responses, and needs of families continuing their pregnancy.


Methods: An integrative review was performed using the Whitemore and Knafl methodology and PRISMA guidelines. A systematic review of peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2200 on the experiences of fetal anomaly was performed using 5 databases. Eligible articles included qualitative studies describing families' experiences with a fetal anomaly diagnosis who elected to continue their pregnancy. Methodological quality was evaluated using the Critical Skills Appraisal Program checklist.


Results: Of the 678 article results, 16 met inclusion criteria. There were 298 participants from 5 countries. The major overarching theme of Response to the Diagnosis of Fetal Anomaly was identified. The major categories were emotional response, coping strategies, influences, health care experiences, and family needs. Uncertainty and grief were the most common emotions.


Discussion: Parents choosing to continue pregnancy benefit from compassionate, sensitive care, and accurate, concise information, provided in tailored instruction using multiple styles.