204537 Women's anticipated emotional responses to elective abortion: Differences by age, gestation and mental health history of women seeking abortion

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:50 AM

Diana Greene Foster, PhD , Bixby Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Heather Gould, MPH , Bixby Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Jessica Zabell , Hope Clinic for Women, Granite City, IL
Anne Baker , Hope Clinic for Women, Granite City, IL
Sally Burgess, MBA , Hope Clinic, Hope Clinic for Women, Granite City, IL
Introduction Most women who terminate pregnancies do not experience adverse psychological sequelae [APA task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, 8/13/08]. However, women do experience a range of emotions following abortion. How these emotional responses vary according to demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of women and gestation of pregnancy is not known. Such information would be helpful for assessing the need for pre- and post-abortion counseling.

Methods: We abstracted data from counseling needs assessment forms from a large Midwestern abortion clinic. These forms contain clients' reports of their decision making, emotions, abortion attitudes, mental health history, social support, religion/spiritual beliefs, abortion history and anticipated emotional response to the abortion. We are abstracting approximately 5,500 needs assessment forms linked with medical record data on gestation, age and pregnancy history of the clients.

Results: The intake form and medical record data describe women's emotional state prior to abortion and their anticipated response to abortion. We present differences in abortion attitudes, emotions, and anticipated coping by degree of social support, religious beliefs, and mental health history. In multivariate analyses we control for women's age, race/ethnicity, education and gestational age of the pregnancy.

Discussion: These data give important background information to clinics to determine the counseling and social support needs of their patients and identify women who are at higher risk of having a negative emotional response to abortion. The use of a needs assessment form to assess women's counseling needs may be a useful tool for providing client-centered care and allocating scarce counseling time to women with the greatest needs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the use of needs assessment forms to assess women’s counseling needs. 2. Understand the emotional responses that women anticipate from the abortion. 3. Identify characteristics of women and pregnancies which are associated with more negative responses. 4. Discuss women’s needs for abortion counseling and support as part of clinical care.

Keywords: Abortion, Counseling

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceived of the study, arranged for abstraction of data, am responsible for data analysis and presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.