Context: Induced abortion is one of the most common procedures performed among women in the United States. However, 87% of all counties had no abortion provider in 2000, and little is known about the attitudes and intentions of future health care providers, including advanced clinical practitioners, regarding abortion provision.
Methods: During March 2002, first- and second-year students in health sciences programs (i.e., medicine, physician assistant and nursing) at the University of Washington were anonymously surveyed. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to determine students' attitudes and intentions regarding provision of abortion services.
Results: Of the 312 students who completed the survey, 70% supported the availability of legal abortion under any circumstances. Thirty-one percent intended to provide medical abortion in their practice, and 18% planned to offer surgical abortion. Fifty-two percent of all respondents agreed that advanced clinical practitioners should be able to provide medical abortion, and 37% agreed that they should be able to provide surgical abortion services; however, greater proportions of advanced clinical practitioners (45-83%) than of medical students (21-43%) expressed such support. Sixty-four percent of all respondents were willing to attend a program whose curriculum requires abortion training.
Conclusions: Although it may not be possible to require abortion training for every future health care provider, making abortion a standard part of clinical training would provide opportunities for future physicians and advanced clinical practitioners, and would likely ameliorate the abortion provider shortage.