Having standard templates for screening results letters means that everyone can get clear, consistent information written in a sensitive and appropriate way.
That's why we blogged back in March 2020 about new letter templates for antenatal screening laboratories to use when providing lower chance results to women following a combined or quadruple screening test.
The templates used wording which we'd agreed with parent support organisations (such as the Down's Syndrome Association and SOFT). For example, the letters refer to 'chance' rather than 'risk', which is a more neutral and appropriate word.
Hopefully many laboratories have implemented these new templates over the last year. We've now made a few improvements to them. In particular, following feedback we wanted to provide a better way for women to understand their own chance.
See the new templates as part of the FASP laboratory handbook.
Better wording to explain chance
In the old letters, we used a more abstract approach:
To understand what ‘1 chance in (number)’ means, imagine you have a bag of (number) apples, of which 1 is red and the rest are green. If you pick an apple at random, you have ‘1 chance in (number)’ of picking a red one.
But we realised it would be much better and simpler to refer to a group of women instead. The new wording says:
To understand what ‘1 chance in (number)’ means, imagine a group of (number) women. One of these women will be pregnant with a baby that has the condition.
Annette McHugh from PHE recommends all labs to consider moving to the new templates. She said:
Using these templates is a simple and positive way for labs to improve their communications with women who get lower chance results. The language is clear, sensitive and easy to understand. I hope that all labs will consider using the templates and PHE would be delighted to help in any way we can.
If you have already implemented the letter templates, please update them to the new versions. If you haven't yet implemented them then this is the ideal opportunity to do so!
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