In a world where family planning decisions are becoming increasingly complex, elective egg freezing has emerged as a popular option for women who wish to extend their fertile years. The decision to freeze one's eggs is multifaceted and involves a range of considerations, from the financial aspects to the potential health risks. To address the need for comprehensive and accessible information, researchers have developed a Decision Aid for elective egg freezing. In this blog post, we will explore the development of this Decision Aid and the results of a phase 1 evaluation, shedding light on its acceptability and utility for women making this important decision.
Understanding the Need
The average age at which women have their first child has been steadily rising in many high-income countries. This trend, combined with various life circumstances, has led more women to consider elective egg freezing as a way to preserve their fertility. Women may choose to freeze their eggs for a variety of reasons, including the absence of a partner, concerns about their biological clock, a desire to insure against future infertility, or to avoid potential regret.
However, the decision to freeze one's eggs is not without its challenges. It involves significant financial costs, and the success rates decrease as women age. Furthermore, there are rare but serious health risks associated with the procedure. Moreover, many women who freeze their eggs may not end up using them, often due to the lack of a suitable partner for co-parenting.
Recognizing these complexities, the researchers embarked on the journey to develop a Decision Aid that would provide women with the necessary information and support to make informed choices about elective egg freezing.
Development of the Decision Aid
To create the Decision Aid, a collaborative group of experts from various fields, including psychology, gynaecology, clinical research, and public education, joined forces. They followed international patient decision aid standards and utilized the Ottawa Decision Support Framework to ensure that the content and design met the highest quality standards.
The Decision Aid, titled 'Egg Freezing,' offers comprehensive information, including the pros, cons, and implications of egg freezing, as well as alternatives to consider. It is designed with clarity and accessibility in mind, using text, infographics, and video animations. A special feature is a values clarification exercise, which helps users assess their personal preferences and concerns regarding egg freezing.
Phase 1 Evaluation: Acceptability and Utility
To evaluate the Decision Aid, researchers conducted a phase 1 study involving 26 Australian women aged 18–45 who were interested in receiving egg freezing information. Here are some key findings from the evaluation:
The development and phase 1 evaluation of the Decision Aid for elective egg freezing represent a significant step forward in empowering women to make informed decisions about their fertility. The tool's acceptability, utility, and positive impact on knowledge and decisional conflict suggest that it holds great promise as a valuable resource.
As further evaluation through a prospective randomized control trial is planned, the Decision Aid may soon become widely available to women considering elective egg freezing. With this resource at their disposal, women can navigate the complexities of this decision with greater confidence and clarity, ultimately shaping their reproductive futures on their terms.
Read more here: https://bmcmedinformdecismak.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12911-023-02178-4
Citation: Sandhu, S., et al. The development and phase 1 evaluation of a Decision Aid for elective egg freezing. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2023
Acknowledgements: ChatGPT was used to generate this content