Women’s experiences of a telemedicine abortion service (up to 12 weeks) implemented during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: A qualitative evaluation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective
To explore the experiences of women in Scotland who accessed medical abortion at home up to 12 weeks gestation, delivered via a telemedicine abortion service implemented in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, to identify areas for improvement and inform service provision.
Design
Qualitative interview study.
Setting
Abortion service in one National Health Service health board in Scotland.
Population or Sample
20 women that accessed telemedicine abortion services and self-administered mifepristone and misoprostol at home up to 12 weeks gestation.
Methods
Thematic analysis of semi-structured qualitative interviews, informed by the Framework analytic approach.
Main Outcome Measures
Women’s experiences of accessing telemedicine for medical abortion at home, specifically: acceptability of the telephone consultation and remote support; views on no pre-abortion ultrasound scan; and self-administration of abortion medications at home.
Results
Novel study findings were threefold: (1) participants valued the option of accessing abortion care via telemedicine, and emphasised the benefits of providing a choice of telephone and in-person consultation to suit those with different life circumstances; (2) the quality of abortion care was enhanced by the telemedicine service in relation to access, comfort and flexibility, and ongoing telephone support; (3) participants described being comfortable with, and in some cases a preference for, not having an ultrasound scan.
Conclusions
This research demonstrates support for the continuation of telemedicine abortion services beyond the temporary arrangements in place during COVID-19, and lends weight to the argument that offering the option of telemedicine abortion care can enable women to access this essential health service.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Early online date17 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Termination of pregnancy: Medical
  • Abortion
  • Healthcare
  • Telemedicine
  • Health services research
  • Qualitative Study

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