Perspectives on access to in vitro fertilization in Portugal

Perspectivas sobre o acesso aos tratamentos de fertilidade em Portugal

Visión de los utilizadores sobre el acceso a los tratamientos de fertilidad en Portugal

OBJECTIVE: To analyze users' reasons for choosing in vitro fertilization treatment in public or private services and to identify their suggestions for improving fertility treatment. METHODS: A qualitative study using an interpretative approach was conducted. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment (nine women, one man and five couples) at home or at their workplace in the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, Porto and Lisbon, Portugal, between July 2005 and February 2006. RESULTS: Users evaluated access to in vitro fertilization treatment in public and private services based mainly on their individual experiences and called for more access to less costly, faster and friendlier care with suitable facilities, appropriate time management and caring medical providers. These perceptions were also associated with views on the need for fighting stigmatization of infertility, protecting children's rights and guaranteeing sustainability of health care system. Interviewees sought to balance reduced waiting time and more attentive care with costs involved. The choice of services depended on the users' purchase power and place of residence and availability of attentive care. CONCLUSIONS: Current national policies on in vitro fertilization treatment meet user's demands of promoting access to, and quality, availability and affordability of in vitro fertilization treatment. However, their focus on legal regulation and technical-scientific aspects contrasts with the users' emphasis on reimbursement, insurance coverage and focus on emotional aspects of the treatment. The study showed these policies should ensure insurance coverage, participation of user representatives in the National Council for Assisted Reproductive Technology, promotion of infertility research and certification of fertility laboratories.

In Vitro Fertilization; Health Services Accessibility; Infertility; psychology; Sexual and Reproductive Rights; Qualitative Research

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