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Do women tell their contraceptive care providers about when they have abortions?

Lisa An, Yale University School of Medicine, 2012

Project abstract

Background: We hypothesize that women underreport their abortions and contraceptive failures to their contraceptive care providers. If they do underreport, then their contraceptive care providers do not know about their contraceptive failures and cannot adjust their contraceptive care accordingly. Without this adjustment, these women may receive poor contraceptive care. The political nature and stigma surrounding abortion have isolated it from the rest of women's health care to the point that a gap in comprehensive contraceptive care exists. We propose to study the patient side of this gap by examining issues around abortion disclosure to contraceptive care providers.

Study design: We propose a voluntary, anonymous, self-administered questionnaire of women seeking abortion services to determine whether they have disclosed or plan to disclose their abortion to their contraceptive care providers. We will recruit participants from among women presenting for abortion care to Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

Implications: If our hypothesis is correct, it has major implications for the public health epidemic of unintended pregnancy and abortion. We envision this study as a pilot that can be expanded to a broader and larger sample of US women having abortions. The description of this disconnect in care has implications for physician training, education, and practice as well as for the need for continued destigmatization for abortion.

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