Pulse oximetry screening for congenital heart defects in newborn infants: an evaluation of acceptability to mothers

Rachael Powell, Helen M. Pattison, Abhay Bhoyar, Alexandra T. Furmston, Lee J. Middleton, Jane P. Daniels, Andew K. Ewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Introducing neonatal screening procedures may not be readily accepted by parents and may increase anxiety. The acceptability of pulse oximetry screening to parents has not been previously reported.
Objective: To assess maternal acceptability of pulse oximetry screening for congenital heart defects and to identify factors predictive of participation in screening.
Design and setting: A questionnaire was completed by a cross-sectional sample of mothers whose babies were recruited into the PulseOx Study which investigated the test accuracy of pulse oximetry screening.
Participants: A total of 119 mothers of babies with false-positive (FP) results, 15 with true-positive and 679 with true-negative results following screening.
Main outcome measures: Questionnaires included measures of satisfaction with screening, anxiety, depression and perceptions of test results.
Results: Participants were predominantly satisfied with screening. The anxiety of mothers given FP results was not significantly higher than that of mothers given true-negative results (median score 32.7 vs 30.0, p=0.09). White British/Irish mothers were more likely to participate in screening, with a decline rate of 5%; other ethnic groups were more likely to decline with the largest increase in declining being for Black African mothers (21%, OR 4.6, 95% CI 3.8 to 5.5). White British mothers were also less anxious (p<0.001) and more satisfied (p<0.001) than those of other ethnicities
Conclusions: Pulse oximetry screening was acceptable to mothers and FP results were not found to increase anxiety. Factors leading to differences in participation and satisfaction across ethnic groups need to be identified so that staff can support parents appropriately.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F59-F63
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number1
Early online date18 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • adult
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • female
  • congenital heart defects
  • humans
  • infant
  • mothers
  • oximetry
  • patientacceptance of health care
  • Young Adult
  • newborn


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