OBJECTIVE: To study couples' perceptions of their decision-making process during the first three years of infertility treatments.
STUDY DESIGN: This study is a part of a larger project studying the decision-making processes of 22 infertile heterosexual couples, recruited from fertility clinics in all five Nordic countries, over a three year period. A descriptive qualitative method was used.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Process of decision-making during assisted reproduction treatments.
RESULTS: Seventeen couples had succeeded in becoming parents after approximately three years. Our study suggests that the decision-making process during fertility treatments has three phases: (i) recognizing the decisions to be made, with subcategories; the driving force, mutual project, (ii) gathering knowledge and experience about the options, with subcategories; trust, patient competence, personalized support, and (iii) adapting decisions to possible options, with subcategories; strategic planning, adaption. The core category was "maintaining control in a situation of uncertainty."
CONCLUSIONS: Two parallel processes affect couples' decision-making process, one within themselves and their relationship, and the other in their contact with the fertility clinic. Couples struggle to make decisions, trusting clinic personnel for guidance, knowledge, and understanding. Nevertheless, couples expressed disappointment with the clinics' reactions to their requests for shared decision-making.
2013. Vol. 4, no 2, 49-55 p.