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Riv Psichiatr. 2018 Nov-Dec;53(6):324-330. doi: 10.1708/3084.30766.

Psychological implications of abortion: a longitudinal study on two cohorts of women who recur to elective and therapeutic abortion.

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Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.



The aim of this work was to identify risk predictors of a negative psychological outcome among personal, situational and systemic characteristics of women who choose to interrupt a pregnancy by elective (e.g., not feeling ready for giving birth) or therapeutic means (e.g., fetal abnormalities).


A prospective study on two cohorts were conducted and focused on a group of women: the first recurred to elective abortion (VTP) (n=20) and the second recurred to therapeutic abortion (TTP) (n=30). The psychological distress was measured before and after abortion through the administration of two psychometric tests: SCL-90-r and CES-D. Dependent samples t-test was used to evaluate the tendency of the two cohorts' mean scores before and after abortion; repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze the variance of mean scores of subgroups isolated for variables of interest before and after abortion.


After the termination of pregnancy, in VTP a significant decrease between t-0 and t-1 mean score (p<0.05) was observed in all SCL-90-r's global scores and subscales: GSI (p=0.036), PST (p=.031), PSDI (p=0.004), SOM (p=0.009), DEP (p=0.032), ANX (p=0.036) and even in CES-D score of DEP (p=0.017) and SOM (p=0.011) subscales. In TTP a relevant decrease was found in SCL-90's SOM (p=0.023) and ANX, (p=0.016) subscales and in CES-D total score (p=0.020), POS (p=0.014) and SOM (p=0.09)subscales. In VTP group presence of partner support and absence of relational problems resulted as protective factors from a worse outcome.


The results of this study suggest that, following an induced abortion, women experienced a significant improvement in the mood state compared to the period before the event; poor partner support and relational problems related with the abortion emerged as risk factors for a significantly worse psychological outcome compared to other causes interruption of pregnancy.


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