Low fertility awareness in U.S. reproductive-aged women and medical trainees: creation and validation of the Fertility & Infertility Treatment Knowledge Score (FIT-KS)

A validated instrument used to assess fertility awareness and infertility treatments demonstrated significant knowledge gaps among women in both the general reproductive- aged and medical trainee populations in the United States.

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Volume 108, Issue 4, Pages 711–717

Authors:

Rashmi Kudesia, M.D., M.Sc., Elizabeth Chernyak, M.D., Beth McAvey, M.D., M.S.

Abstract:

Objective

To create, validate, and use a fertility awareness survey based on current U.S. data.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Setting

Not applicable.

Patient(s)

Phase 1 included U.S. women ages 18–45; phase 2 included female medical students and obstetrics and gynecology trainees at two urban academic programs.

Intervention(s)

Survey including demographics, the Fertility & Infertility Treatment Knowledge Score (FIT-KS) instrument, and General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Knowledge of natural fertility and infertility treatments.

Result(s)

The FIT-KS was validated through detailed item and validity analyses. In phase 1, 127 women participated; their median age was 31 years, and 43.7% had children. Their mean FIT-KS score was 16.2 ± 3.5 (55.9% correct). In phase 2, 118 medical trainees participated; their median age was 25 years, and 12.4% had children. Their mean FIT-KS score was 18.8 ± 2.1 (64.9% correct), with year of training correlating to a higher score (r=0.40). Participant awareness regarding lifestyle factors varied, but it was particularly low regarding the effects of lubricants. The majority underestimated the spontaneous miscarriage rate and overestimated the fecundability of 40-year-old women. There was general overestimation of success rates for assisted reproductive technologies, particularly among medical trainees.

Conclusion(s)

The FIT-KS is validated to current U.S. data for use in both general and medical populations as a quick assessment of fertility knowledge. The knowledge gaps demonstrated in this study correlate with national trends in delayed childbearing and time to initiate treatment. For medical trainees, these results raise concerns about the quality of fertility counseling they may be able to offer patients. Greater educational outreach must be undertaken to enhance fertility awareness.


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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.

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