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Scand J Public Health. 2018 Dec;46(8):835-845. doi: 10.1177/1403494817717555. Epub 2017 Jul 9.

Women's reasons for choosing abortion method: A systematic literature review.

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1 Section and Research Unit for General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2 Finohta (Finnish Office for Health Technology Assessment) at THL (National Institute for Health and Welfare), Helsinki, Finland.



We aim to describe and classify reasons behind women's choice between medical and surgical abortion.


A systematic literature review was conducted in PubMed and PsycINFO in October 2015. The subjects were women in early pregnancy opting for abortion at clinics or hospitals in high-income countries. We extracted women's reasons for choice of abortion method and analysed these qualitatively, looking at main reasons for choosing either medical or surgical abortion.


Reasons for choice of method were classified to five main groups: technical nature of the intervention, fear of complications, fear of surgery or anaesthesia, timing and sedation. Reasons for selecting medical abortion were often based on the perception of the method being 'more natural' and the wish to have abortion in one's home in addition to fear of complications. Women who opted for surgical abortion appreciated the quicker process, viewed it as the safer option, and wished to avoid pain and excess bleeding. Reasons were often based on emotional reactions, previous experiences and a lack of knowledge about the procedures. Some topics such as pain or excess bleeding received little attention. Overall the quality of the studies was low, most studies were published more than 10 years ago, and the generalisability of the findings was poor.


Women did not base their choice of abortion method only on rational information from professionals but also on emotions and especially fears. Support techniques for a more informed choice are needed. Recent high-quality studies in this area are lacking.


Abortion; abortion applicants (MeSH); abortion legal (MeSH); choice behaviour (MeSH); first (MeSH); induced (MeSH); pregnancy trimester

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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