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Womens Health Issues. 2012 Jul-Aug;22(4):e359-64. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2012.04.003. Epub 2012 May 18.

Patient education and emotional support practices in abortion care facilities in the United States.

Author information

1
Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA. gouldh@obgyn.ucsf.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Little is known about how patient education and emotional support is provided at abortion facilities. This pilot study documents 27 facilities' practices in this aspect of abortion care.

METHODS:

We conducted confidential telephone interviews with staff from 27 abortion facilities about their practices.

MAIN FINDINGS:

The majority of facilities reported they rely primarily on trained nonclinician staff to educate patients and provide emotional support. As part of their informed consent and counseling processes, facilities reported that staff always provide patients with information about the procedure (96%), assess the certainty of their abortion decisions (92%), assess their feelings and provide emotional support (74%), and provide contraceptive health education (92%). Time spent providing these components of care varied across facilities and patients. When describing their facility's care philosophy, many respondents expressed support for "patient-centered," "supportive," "nonjudgmental" care. Eighty-two percent agreed that it is the facility's role to provide counseling for emotional issues related to abortion.

CONCLUSIONS:

All facilities valued informed consent, patient education, and emotional support. Although the majority of facilities considered counseling for emotional issues to be a part of their role, some did not. Future research should examine patients' preferences regarding abortion care and counseling and how different approaches to care affect women's emotional well-being after having an abortion.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

This information is important in light of current, widespread legislative efforts that aim to regulate abortion counseling, which are being proposed without an understanding of patient needs or facility practices.

PMID:
22609254
DOI:
10.1016/j.whi.2012.04.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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