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Fam Plann Perspect. 1995 Jul-Aug;27(4):162-5.

Repeat abortion and use of primary care health services.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, USA.


One-third (34%) of 2,001 women who sought an abortion in 1991-1992 in Wichita, Kansas, were repeat-abortion patients. Compared with first-time abortion patients, repeat-abortion patients were significantly older, more often black, and younger at their first pregnancy (p < .001). The two groups did not vary significantly by income or age at first intercourse. However, repeat-abortion patients were significantly more likely than first-time patients to have been using a contraceptive method at the time of conception (65% compared with 59%) and more likely to say they always or almost always used a method (63% and 53%, respectively). More than 40% of women in each group reported they had no personal physician. Further, 34% of repeat-abortion patients said they had no follow-up examination after their previous abortion, and 28% said they received no contraceptive counseling. Only half of women whose pregnancy was confirmed by their personal physician obtained an abortion referral from that physician.


To refine understanding of the characteristics of women who obtain a repeat abortion, the 2445 consecutive women who sought abortion at a Wichita, Kansas, clinic from July 1991 to June 1992 were administered a 100-item questionnaire prior to the procedure. 80% of abortion seekers were White and only 20% were currently married; the average age was 23.6 years. Of the 2001 women who completed the questionnaire, 23.7% had one prior abortion and another 10.5% had two or more prior abortions. Compared to women having their first abortion, repeat abortion patients were significantly older (22.5% vs. 25.7 years), more likely to be Black (8.5% vs. 16.1%), and more often married (17.4% vs. 22.8%). Of note were the high proportions of repeat abortion patients who were using a contraceptive method at the time of conception (65%) and were consistent users (63%); these rates were 59 and 53%, respectively, for first-time abortion patients. About 60% of women in both groups had a personal physician, and these women were significantly more likely than their counterparts with no regular source of care to be consistent users of contraception. On the other hand, only 10% of abortion patients were referred to the clinic by a primary care physician and the majority self-diagnosed their pregnancy or used a home-based test. 34% of repeat abortion patients had not received a follow-up examination in association with the prior abortion and 28% reported they were not given contraceptive counseling at that time. To reduce the need for repeat abortion, it is recommended that abortion clinic personnel ensure that all abortion patients without a primary care provider are referred to such a physician for ongoing comprehensive health care, including family planning.

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