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'Time waits for no one': IVF patients' evaluations of their experiences of the National Health Service waiting list

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Erica Haimes


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This study investigated patients' evaluations of the costs and benefits of in vitro fertilization funded by the National Health Service, which is characterized by long waiting lists, a restricted number of treatment cycles and reduced chances of success. This paper reports the waiting list data. This was a prospective in-depth cohort study of 21 couples from one clinic, plus a comparison group of 99 couples, to establish the representativeness of the cohort couples. The cohort couples were interviewed three times: (i) before the start of treatment, (ii) after the first cycle of treatment and (iii) at the end of treatment. A total of 80% of the cohort couples had waited more than 3 years for treatment. Important themes raised in the interviews include: patients' understanding of what it means to be on the waiting list; their predicted versus actual waiting time; how they managed their time on the list; their reactions to coming off the list; and their views on how the list could be improved. Overall, patients thought their treatment had been worthwhile but that the time spent waiting for treatment was too long and was puzzling. It is concluded that the waiting list involves hidden costs for patients, clinics and the National Health Service.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Haimes E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Fertility

Year: 1999

Volume: 2

Issue: 2

Pages: 122-126

Print publication date: 01/11/1999

ISSN (print): 1464-7273

ISSN (electronic): 1742-8149


DOI: 10.1080/1464727992000198491


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