The role of interpersonal communication in preventing unsafe abortion in communities: the dialogues for life project in Nepal

J Health Commun. 2011 Mar;16(3):245-63. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2010.529495.


Legal, procedural, and institutional restrictions on safe abortion services-such as laws forbidding the practice or policies preventing donors from supporting groups who provide legal services-remain a major access barrier for women worldwide. However, even when abortion services are legal, women face social and cultural barriers to accessing safe abortion services and preventing unwanted pregnancy. Interpersonal communication interventions play an important role in overcoming these obstacles, including as part of broad educational- and behavioral-change efforts. This article presents results from an interpersonal communication behavior change pilot intervention, Dialogues for Life, undertaken in Nepal from 2004 to 2006, after abortion was legalized in 2002. The project aimed to encourage and enable women to prevent unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions and was driven by dialogue groups and select community events. The authors' results confirm that a dialogue-based interpersonal communication intervention can help change behavior and that this method is feasible in a low-resource, low-literacy setting. Dialogue groups play a key role in addressing sensitive and stigmatizing health issues such as unsafe abortion and in empowering women to negotiate for the social support they need when making decisions about their health.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Legal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Communication*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nepal
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Power, Psychological
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult