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Contraception. 2008 Jul;78(1):31-5. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2008.02.008. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Medical Students for Choice's Reproductive Health Externships: impact on medical students' knowledge, attitudes and intention to provide abortions.

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Bixby Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.



The number of abortion providers in the United States has declined dramatically in the past 15 years, threatening women's already limited access to abortion services. Improving medical students' training in abortion could help abate this public health crisis.


From 2004 to 2006, we surveyed students before and after their participation in Medical Students for Choice's Reproductive Health Externship (RHE) program to assess their knowledge about abortion and unintended pregnancy, attitudes about performing abortions, intentions to provide abortions in the future and (in 2006) counseling patients.


Following participation in an RHE, 15% more students answered at least 75% of questions about unintended pregnancy and abortion correctly (p=.006) than prior to participation. RHE participants were more supportive of abortion provision (p<.001) and more inclined to provide abortions in the future (p=.008). In 2006, the RHE participants were twice as likely to feel comfortable counseling patients about abortion (p<.001).


Early clinical experiences with abortion and family planning can impact medical students' knowledge, attitudes, intentions to provide abortions and ability to counsel patients, potentially improving women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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