The effect of patient-centered contraceptive counseling in women who undergo a voluntary termination of pregnancy

Patient Educ Couns. 2007 Mar;65(3):361-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2006.09.004. Epub 2006 Nov 27.


Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate, by means of a randomized controlled trial, whether a patient-centered contraceptive counseling intervention increased the use of contraception, and the knowledge and positive attitudes towards contraception, in women who undergo a termination of pregnancy (TOP).

Methods: The study was carried out at the San Paolo Hospital of Milan between the 1st of February and the 31st of May 2004. Participants (41 women; ages 20-44 years) were randomly divided into two groups: an experimental group (n = 20), who received patient-centered contraceptive counseling, and a control group (n = 21), who received the routine treatment in use at the San Paolo Hospital and were referred to the community health centers after the TOP. Both groups were administered a questionnaire at two points in time (before the counseling and 1 month later) which evaluated participants' knowledge, attitudes and use of contraception (the latter was also followed up 3 months later). The counseling intervention lasted 30 min and was carried out by a psychologist and a gynaecologist.

Results: It was found that knowledge, favorable attitudes and use of effective contraception increased significantly for the experimental group, whereas there was no significant change for the control group.

Conclusion: The counseling intervention was therefore found to be efficacious in improving understanding and use of contraception in women who have undergone a TOP. The hope is that this will contribute to increased use of effective contraception in the future.

Practice implications: Following the principles of patient-centered medicine, this study provides evidence for the importance of exploring woman's feelings, beliefs, wishes and expectations regarding contraception within a contraceptive counseling intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal* / education
  • Abortion, Legal* / psychology
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Contraception Behavior* / psychology
  • Contraception Behavior* / statistics & numerical data
  • Counseling / organization & administration*
  • Family Planning Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women* / education
  • Women* / psychology