Expectations and experiences of gamete donors and donor-conceived adults searching for genetics relatives using DNA linking through a voluntary register

van den Akker, Olga and Crawshaw, M. A. and Blyth, E. D. and Frith, L. J. (2015) Expectations and experiences of gamete donors and donor-conceived adults searching for genetics relatives using DNA linking through a voluntary register. Human Reproduction, 30 (1). pp. 111-121. ISSN 0268-1161

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:
What are the experiences of donor-conceived adults and donors who are searching for a genetic link through the use of a DNA-based voluntary register service?

SUMMARY ANSWER:
Donor-conceived adults and donors held positive beliefs about their search and although some concerns in relation to finding a genetically linked relative were reported, these were not a barrier to searching.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:
Research with donor-conceived people has consistently identified their interest in learning about-and in some cases making contact with-their donor and other genetic relatives. However, donor-conceived individuals or donors rarely have the opportunity to act on these desires.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, AND DURATION:
A questionnaire was administered for online completion using Bristol Online Surveys. The survey was live for 3 months and responses were collected anonymously.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, AND METHODS:
The survey was completed by 65 donor-conceived adults, 21 sperm donors and 5 oocyte donors who had registered with a DNA-based voluntary contact register in the UK. The questionnaire included socio-demographic questions, questions specifically developed for the purposes of this study and the standardized Aspects of Identity Questionnaire (AIQ).

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:
Motivations for searching for genetic relatives were varied, with the most common reasons being curiosity and passing on information. Overall, participants who were already linked and those awaiting a link were positive about being linked and valued access to a DNA-based register. Collective identity (reflecting self-defining feelings of continuity and uniqueness), as assessed by the AIQ, was significantly lower for donor-conceived adults when compared with the donor groups (P < 0.05), but not significantly different between linked/not linked or length of time since disclosure of donor conception (all Ps > 0.05) for donor-conceived adults.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:
Participants were members of a UK DNA-based registry which is unique. It was therefore not possible to determine how representative participants were of those who did not register for the service, those in other countries or of those who do not seek information exchange or contact.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:
This is the first survey exploring the experiences of donor-conceived adults and donors using a DNA-based voluntary register to seek information about and contact with genetic relatives and the first to measure aspects of identity using standardized measures. Findings provide valuable information about patterns of expectations and experiences of searching through DNA linking, identity and of having contact in the context of donor conception that will inform future research, practice and policy development.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Applied Health Psychology group
Item ID: 14361
Notes on copyright: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Human Reproduction following peer review. The version of record O.B.A. van den Akker, M.A. Crawshaw, E.D. Blyth, L.J. Frith; Expectations and experiences of gamete donors and donor-conceived adults searching for genetic relatives using DNA linking through a voluntary register. Hum Reprod 2015; 30 (1): 111-121. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deu289 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deu289
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Depositing User: Sonia Dubois
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2015 09:35
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2018 17:06
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/14361

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