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Abortion attitudes and understanding among U.S. medical students who have applied to an obstetrics and gynecology residency: A qualitative study on potential future abortion provision

Deborah Bartz, The Brigham and Women's Hospital, Inc., 2012

Project abstract

Background: Poor abortion access in the U.S. is largely driven by an ongoing shortage of providers. Among surveyed obstetrics and gynecology physicians, pre-residency intention to provide abortion care is the strongest predictor of future abortion provision. The process through which medical students applying to obstetrics and gynecology training form these pre-residency intentions to provide abortion care has yet to be systematically investigated.

Specific aims: 1) To assess which factors influence medical students' pre-residency intention to provide abortion; 2) To determine how, if at all, medical students who have applied to obstetrics and gynecology residencies perceive abortion to be relevant to themselves and their future patients; 3) To investigate how, if at all, pre-residency intention to provide abortion is influenced through medical school training. Our primary outcomes of interest are factors across domains influencing medical students' pre-residency intention to provide abortion. Using a social-ecological model, we hypothesize factors at the individual, family, professional, and societal levels influence intention to provide.

Methods: We propose to conduct an in-depth qualitative investigation among fourth-year medical students who have applied to residencies in obstetrics and gynecology. Over two residency application cycles, we anticipate conducting 80 semi-structured qualitative interviews with students sampled on the following criteria: geographic region of medical school; presence or lack of a Ryan Residency Training Program in Family Planning and Abortion in their medical school-affiliated teaching hospital; and student gender. Data will be coded using a combination of inductive and deductive analytical techniques.

Expected outcomes: We will elucidate the breadth factors that affect medical students' intentions to provide abortion. We anticipate creating medical student curricula reform recommendations and evidence-based abortion values clarification exercises for medical students, in addition to opening up a new field of inquiry in medical education research through this pioneering study.

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