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J Reprod Infertil. 2013 Jul;14(3):143-51.

The Role of Psychological Adjustment in the Decision-making Process for Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy.

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Maternidade Dr. Alfredo da Costa, Lisbon, Portugal.



This study's objective was to evaluate the role of psychological adjustment in the decision-making process to have an abortion and explore individual variables that might influence this decision.


In this cross-sectional study, we sequentially enrolled 150 women who made the decision to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy in Maternity Dr. Alfredo da Costa, in Lisbon, Portugal, between September 2008 and June 2009. The instruments were the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), Satisfaction with Social Support Scale (SSSS), Emotional Assessment Scale (EAS), Decision Conflict Scale (DCS), and Beliefs and Values Questionnaire (BVQ). We analyzed the data using Student's T-tests, MANOVA, ANOVA, Tukey's post-hoc tests and CATPCA. Statistically significant effects were accepted for p<0.05.


The participants found the decision difficult and emotionally demanding, although they also identified it as a low conflict decision. The prevailing emotions were sadness, fear and stress; but despite these feelings, the participants remained psychologically adjusted in the moment they decided to have an abortion. The resolution to terminate the pregnancy was essentially shared with supportive people and it was mostly motivated by socio-economic issues. The different beliefs and values found in this sample, and their possible associations are discussed.


Despite high levels of stress, the women were psychologically adjusted at the time of making the decision to terminate the pregnancy. However, opposing what has been previously reported, the women presented high levels of sadness and fear, showing that this decision was hard to make, triggering disruptive emotions.


Abortion; Decision-making; Emotions; Psychological adjustment; Stress


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