Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Victoria Vincent


Themes within virtual communities have been explored examining topics such as prenatal diagnosis and termination for fetal anomalies, and it is known that when receiving a diagnosis of trisomy 18 or 13 parents may turn to online resources for information and emotional support. Knowledge of what content patients may encounter on various social media platforms about prenatal testing for trisomy 18 and 13 at large has not yet been established. However, this information would aid healthcare professionals in providing anticipatory guidance for patients using social media.

This study is a preliminary scan of social media to identify content areas and topics within posts regarding prenatal testing for trisomy 18 and 13. It is the first, to the researcher’s knowledge, to use monitoring software and artificial intelligence within the field of genetic counseling to quickly analyze a large number of posts using the Crimson Hexagon platform.

A total of 26,740 posts were retrospectively collected from January 1, 2018 until August 30, 2019 from publicly available social media sources. Posts considered Off-Topic were excluded from analysis. The remaining 15,748 posts were placed into one of three categories: Experience (52%), Support/Emotion (25%), or Information (23%).

Experiences described involved ultrasound findings, test results, a previous affected pregnancy, and pregnancy management decisions. The category of Support/Emotion was comprised of others’ reactions to pregnancy management decisions, risk perception analysis for other users, and sympathetic or empathic responses. Information within posts included screening and testing options, procedure risks, and the accuracy of testing.

Based on the content areas and topics of conversation identified in this study, healthcare providers should anticipate that patients may turn to social media as an important source of support and information for their patients who are faced with a positive prenatal screen or diagnosis of trisomy 18 or 13.

Included in

Genetics Commons