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Development and implementation of a clinic-based procedural intervention to enhance embryo donation: a randomized controlled trial

      Objective

      It is estimated that over 600,000 cryopreserved embryos are stored in the U.S. The disposition of these embryos becomes a tormenting decision for many IVF patients and embryo donation remains largely underutilized. This study aimed to assess the baseline knowledge and attitudes of IVF patients regarding frozen embryo donation. Next, a clinic-based procedural intervention was developed and implemented with the aim of enhancing the awareness and likelihood of embryo donation for procreation.

      Design

      Baseline survey and randomized controlled trial (RCT).

      Materials and Methods

      A baseline survey instrument assessing knowledge and attitudes concerning frozen embryos and donation was sent to 1,053 individuals with long-term frozen embryos. Demographic data and 5-point Likert scale responses were collected. Of the 224 individuals responding to the survey, 103 were randomized to the intervention and 98 to the control group. Subjects in the intervention were offered a meeting with a trained mental health professional to explore frozen embryo disposition options, including embryo donation. The intervention group was also offered informational materials and additional support including contact with specially trained nurses, embryologists and physicians within the Frozen Embryo Donation Service. The control group followed standard care without intervention.

      Results

      Data on demographics and responses of the initial survey respondents demonstrates a low baseline awareness of embryo donation. Follow-up on the intervention group compared to the control group demonstrates an increased awareness and knowledge of embryo donation and possibly an increased tendency towards donation.

      Conclusion

      In the clinic setting, an intervention using health professionals trained in embryo donation services can enhance awareness of the option of embryo donation for procreation as well as increase the tendency towards embryo donation. A third phase of this RCT is underway.