Pregnancy decision making: predictors of early stress and adjustment

Psychol Women Q. 1993 Jun;17(2):223-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1993.tb00446.x.


PIP: Adjustment to pregnancy decision making over a 4-week period beginning immediately prior to pregnancy testing was assessed in 33 women who presented to a woman's health clinic in California. An additional 54 women initially recruited for the study had a negative pregnancy test and were thus excluded. The mean age of study subjects as 26.7 years; 63% were White and they had an average of 14 years of education. Prior to pregnancy testing, 70 of the 87 initial subjects (80%) indicated their pregnancies were unintended and 68 (78%) reported they had already made a decision about outcome should their test result to positive (34.5% intended to carry the pregnancy to term, 43.7% planned to abort, and only 21.8% were undecided). Of the 33 women who turned out to be pregnant, questioning before the pregnancy test indicated 10 would carry the pregnancy, 16 would abort, and 7 were undecided. 1 month after the pregnancy test, all 10 women who anticipated continuing the pregnancy were doing so, 15 of the 16 who anticipated abortion had terminated the pregnancy, and of the 7 undecided women, 6 aborted; 1 woman who initially considered abortion and 1 undecided women eventually decided to continue with the pregnancy. Notable, however, is the consistency of outcome decisions over a 1-month period. Adjustment (the degree of stress) was related primarily to the outcome chosen and, to a lesser extent, to certainty versus indecision. Overall, undecided aborters experienced substantially more decision making stress than decided carriers, with decided aborters occupying an intermediary position. Initially, undecided aborters reported significantly more negative affect and decided aborters showed marginally more negative affect than decided carriers; 1 month after the pregnancy test, however, there was no difference in negative affect. Finally, decisional satisfaction was comparable among decided and undecided aborters, but lower than that recorded among women who continued the pregnancy. In general, these findings suggest that abortion is a short-term stressor and these women soon return to an emotional state comparable to that of their counterparts who carry a pregnancy to term.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Americas
  • Behavior
  • Decision Making*
  • Demography
  • Developed Countries
  • Family Planning Services
  • Fertility
  • Follow-Up Studies*
  • North America
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Population
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy*
  • Psychology
  • Reproduction
  • Research
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Time Factors
  • Time*
  • United States