Online Program

Integrating doula support into abortion care – program development, implementation, and women's views on doula support

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 3:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Julie Chor, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Phoebe Lyman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Kate Palmer, School of Public Health, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Doula support, traditionally used during childbirth, has been adapted to help women during other reproductive healthcare experiences, including miscarriage, adoption, and abortion. As first-trimester surgical abortions are most commonly performed using local anesthesia without sedation, doula support may be particularly beneficial for women undergoing first-trimester surgical abortion. The Chicago Doula Circle and researchers at the University of Chicago partnered to create a volunteer abortion doula program for women obtaining first-trimester surgical abortions at Chicago’s public, safety-net hospital, the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. As part of a larger study assessing the impact of doula support on women’s abortion experiences, we sought to understand the acceptability of adapting the birth doula model for abortion care. We conducted semi-structured interviews with women who opted to receive or not receive doula support during first-trimester surgical abortion. Responses were coded in Atlas.ti® Version 7, and analyzed for thematic content. Thirty women were interviewed by phone within two weeks of their procedure: 19 opted for and 11 opted against doula support. Women opting in predominantly viewed doula support as acceptable during childbirth and during abortion and identified a need for social and emotional support during these reproductive experiences. However, several women who opted out expressed discomfort with drawing parallels between childbirth and abortion and questioned the role of doulas in abortion care. These findings indicate that while some individuals may find incorporating doula support in abortion care unacceptable, most women find value in extending this model into a spectrum of reproductive experiences.

Learning Areas:

Program planning
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss best practices for developing and implementing an abortion doula program. Describe women’s receptiveness to adapting the birth doula model to the abortion setting.

Keyword(s): Abortion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator of several grants funding research into the area of doula support at the time of abortion. I have developed, implemented, and evaluated an abortion doula program and seek to expand this intervention into other aspects of women's reproductive health care.
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.