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Introducing abortion patients to a culture of support: a pilot study

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Abstract

Currently in the United States, women who have abortions face a societal culture in which disapproval, stigma, and misinformation about the risks and sequelae of abortion are common. The purpose of this study is to pilot test an intervention that introduces abortion patients to a “culture of support” by providing validating messages and information about groups and services that support women in their reproductive decisions, addressing stigma, and providing information to help women identify and avoid sources of abortion misinformation. Twenty-two women who completed their post-operative exam after abortion were enrolled to take part in the study intervention. In-depth interviews were conducted to explore patient experiences and responses to the intervention. All (22/22) participants responded that they believed that interventions like the one studied could help women avoid letting the judgmental actions and attitudes of others “get to them so much”. All (20/20) participants felt that the intervention was personally helpful to them. An intervention that introduces women having abortions to a “culture of support” was well-received. This study provides a framework for future research about the content, strength, and effect of societal and cultural influences on women having abortions and for additional research about interventions to promote resilience after abortion.

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Notes

  1. The strongest predictor of mental health after an abortion is mental health prior to abortion (Major et al. 2008). However, addressing mental health prior to abortion is beyond the scope of this research.

  2. Our Truths-Nuestras Verdades is a magazine published by EXHALE: http://www.ourtruths.org/magazines/OurTruths-NuestrasVerdades-Winter2009.pdf.

  3. The EXHALE website: http://www.4exhale.org/mission.php.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all the women in the study who spoke with us about their personal experiences. We would like to thank the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Departments of Community and Preventive Medicine and Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science for their support. We would also like to thank Susan Cullman and Peggy Danziger for their expertise and valuable feedback.

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Correspondence to Lisa L. Littman.

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Littman, L.L., Zarcadoolas, C. & Jacobs, A.R. Introducing abortion patients to a culture of support: a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health 12, 419–431 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-009-0095-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-009-0095-0

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