Beliefs, attitudes and funding of assisted reproductive technology: Public perception of over 6,000 respondents from 6 European countries

Bart C.J.M. Fauser, Jacky Boivin, Pedro N. Barri, Basil C. Tarlatzis, Lone Schmidt, Rachel Levy-Toledano

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Background: Fertility rates in Europe are among the lowest in the world, which may be attributed to both biological and lifestyle factors. Cost and reimbursement of fertility treatments vary across Europe, although its citizens enjoy wide access to fertility care. Since few regional studies evaluating public support for fertility treatment exist, we conducted the Listening IVF and Fertility in Europe (LIFE) survey to ascertain public perception of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete donation as a treatment for infertility among European men and women. Methods and findings: This survey was distributed via an online questionnaire to 8,682 individuals who were voluntary participants in an online research panel residing in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, or the UK. The survey covered items to determine respondents' beliefs regarding IVF and its success, the need for public funding, the use of IVF among modern families with different lifestyles, and the support for gamete donation. Results were analyzed by age, country of origin, sex, and sexual orientation. A total of 6,110 (70% of total) men and women responded. Among all respondents, 10% had undergone IVF treatment and 48% had considered or would consider IVF in case of infertility. Respondents estimated IVF mean success rate to be 47% and over half of respondents believed that availability of IVF would encourage people to delay conception. Although 93% of respondents believed that IVF treatment should be publicly funded to some extent, a majority believed that secondary infertility or use of fertility treatments allowing to delay parenthood should be financed privately. Survey respondents believed that the mean number of stimulated IVF cycles funded publicly should be limited 2 to 3 (average 2.4). 79% of respondents were willing to pay for IVF if needed with a mean amount of 5,400 € for a child brought to life through IVF. According to respondents, mean minimum and maximum ages for IVF should be 29 and 42 years old, respectively. The current survey showed support for egg and sperm donation (78%), for IVF in single women (61%) and for same-sex female couples (64%). When analyzing the results per group (i.e., sex, age, sexual orientation, and countries), youngest age groups, homosexuals, bisexuals, German respondents, and men had similar overall positive attitudes and beliefs toward IVF and opinions on public funding. Perceived limits to availability were stronger in women. Conclusion: Overall, the survey results demonstrate a positive attitude among respondents in an online panel toward IVF, gamete donation, and support for public funding for fertility treatment. These findings could potentially drive discussions between patients and prescribers to explore IVF treatment and among legislators and payers to support public funding for these procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0211150
Pages (from-to)e0211150
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude
  • Culture
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
  • Sex Factors


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