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BMJ Open. 2016 Feb 1;6(2):e009698. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009698.

Does abortion increase women's risk for post-traumatic stress? Findings from a prospective longitudinal cohort study.

Author information

1
Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, A Program of the University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, California, USA.
2
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To prospectively assess women's risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and of experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) over 4 ears after seeking an abortion, and to assess whether symptoms are attributed to the pregnancy, abortion or birth, or other events in women's lives.

DESIGN:

Prospective longitudinal cohort study which followed women from approximately 1 week after receiving or being denied an abortion (baseline), then every 6 months for 4 years (9 interview waves).

SETTING:

30 abortion facilities located throughout the USA.

PARTICIPANTS:

Among 956 women presenting for abortion care, some of whom received an abortion and some of whom were denied due to advanced gestational age; 863 women are included in the longitudinal analyses.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

PTSS and PTSD risk were measured using the Primary Care PTSD Screen (PC-PTSD). Index pregnancy-related PTSS was measured by coding the event(s) described by women as the cause of their symptoms.

ANALYSES:

We used unadjusted and adjusted logistic mixed-effects regression analyses to assess whether PTSS, PTSD risk and pregnancy-related PTSS trajectories of women obtaining abortions differed from those who were denied one.

RESULTS:

At baseline, 39% of participants reported any PTSS and 16% reported three or more symptoms. Among women with symptoms 1-week post-abortion seeking (n=338), 30% said their symptoms were due to experiences of sexual, physical or emotional abuse or violence; 20% attributed their symptoms to non-violent relationship issues; and 19% said they were due to the index pregnancy. Baseline levels of PTSS, PTSD risk and pregnancy-related PTSS outcomes did not differ significantly between women who received and women who were denied an abortion. PTSS, PTSD risk and pregnancy-related PTSS declined over time for all study groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Women who received an abortion were at no higher risk of PTSD than women denied an abortion.

KEYWORDS:

ABORTION; MENTAL HEALTH; PREGNANCY

PMID:
26832431
PMCID:
PMC4746441
DOI:
10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009698
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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