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Am J Public Health. 2001 Nov;91(11):1825-31.

Relying on surveys to understand abortion behavior: some cautionary evidence.

Author information

1
Department of Urban Studies and Community Health, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1958, USA. radha@rci.rutgers.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The reliability of abortion self-reports has raised questions about the general usefulness of surveys in research about abortion behavior; however, the extent of underreporting remains a subject of some debate. This study sought to examine abortion reporting in a sample of welfare mothers and to determine factors in underreporting.

METHODS:

In New Jersey, which covers abortions requested by welfare recipients under its Medicaid program, the responses of a randomly drawn sample of 1236 welfare mothers about abortion events were compared with the Medicaid claims records of these women.

RESULTS:

Only 29% of actual abortions were self-reported by the women in the sample. This finding varied dramatically by race, with substantially higher rates of underreporting by Blacks than by Whites or Hispanics.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although race is the most consistent predictor of underreporting behavior, attitudinal factors and survey technology also help in explaining abortion reporting behavior.

PMID:
11684611
PMCID:
PMC1446886
DOI:
10.2105/ajph.91.11.1825
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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