Re-Examining Genetic Screening and Oral Contraceptives: A Patient-Centered Review.


Department of Economics, Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122, USA. [Email]


The World Health Organization classifies combined hormonal contraception as an unacceptable health risk in the presence of a known thrombogenic mutation but advises against routine thrombophilia screening before initiating combined oral contraceptives (COCs) on the grounds of high screening costs and low prevalence. From the perspective of patient-centered care, we examine cost, prevalence, and other published arguments for and against thrombophilia screening before initiating COCs. Our patient-centered review draws on relevant empirical evidence concerning the advantages and disadvantages of thrombophilia screening, while placing the discussion in the broader context of evolving attitudes toward genetic testing and a shifting policy landscape that provides many women direct access to COCs and/or thrombophilia screening. Given variation in prior probabilities of thrombophilia, expected exposure to other risk factors for venous thromboembolism, attitudes towards risk, expected reactions to a positive test result, ability to pay, and concerns about genetic discrimination, we conclude that the current one-size-fits-most approach is not consistent with patient-centered care. Instead, we advocate for greater patient and provider education concerning the implications of thrombophilia screening. Moreover, we recommend offering patients optional thrombophilia screening before initiating COCs.


combined oral contraceptives,genetic screening,patient-centered care,thrombophilia screening,

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