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The University of Southampton
Clinical Ethics and Law at Southampton

Congratulations to Dr Juliette Schuurmans!!

Published: 28 July 2021
PhD Defence
Dr Juliette Schuurmans

Juliette defended her PhD thesis in the Netherlands on 28th June 2021. This marked the completion of the first joint PhD from a University of Southampton and Academic Medical Centre Groningen PhD programme.

This research looked at a simultaneous screen of carrier status for (initially 50, now 70) serious genetic conditions which cannot be treated (i.e. before a pregnancy) Only couples who were both carriers of the same condition were told about their carrier status, so that they could then make informed decisions about what to do about the increased risk their prospective children would be at. 

Juliette’s study found that GPs, who received targeted training to deliver this test, were well motivated and able to provide the relevant information about the test and guide their patients through the process. Most participants made well-informed decision about taking part and negative psychological outcomes were absent regardless of whether they opted for the screening or not. They were also happy to receive the results as a couple.

Juliette said: “The next step will be to set up a large-scale, nationwide study of the introduction of this screening. All couples hoping to conceive could be offered this screening, with longer term follow-up, to monitor effects on couples and the decisions they make after finding they are a carrier couple. It is important to study the long-term societal implications at the same time.”

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