Objective: To identify women having unsafe abortions and elucidate whether an acceptable follow-up rate among these women can be retrieved.
Study population: One thousand three hundred and fifty-seven women attended Temeke Municipal Hospital, Dar es Salaam with an abortion-related diagnosis.
Methods: Women having unsafe abortions were identified by an empathetic dialogue, offered a contraceptive service and asked to return for follow-up. Three different ways of achieving follow-up information were tested. In phase 1, a combination of hospital-based and home-based interviews was utilized, in phase 2, an additional 1-month control visit was added to the protocol, and in phase 3, the contraceptive counseling and service was provided by technically well-skilled counselors.
Results: Seven hundred and eighty-eight women were identified as having had unsafe abortions and 491 women as spontaneous abortions. Women having unsafe abortions were younger, more often single and of higher parity than women having spontaneous abortions. The follow-up rate achieved varied from 47%-72%, being lowest in phase 1 and highest in phase 3. The two most common reasons for loss to follow-up were the interviewer's inability to locate the respondent's house either because of an unspecific or a remote address (58%) and migration (29%).
Conclusion: If hospital-based and confidential home-based interviews are used combined and if the women having unsafe abortions are counseled by technically well-skilled counselors, it is possible to achieve a reasonable follow-up rate among women having unsafe abortions.