Stigma in abortion care: application to a grounded theory study

Contemp Nurse. 2011 Feb;37(2):115-23. doi: 10.5172/conu.2011.37.2.115.


A recent research study found that being more directly involved in medical abortion places greater demands on the nurses. The demands required by nurses working in abortion care may be increased by the stigma attached to such an antisocial action. This paper presents an application of stigma theory, as espoused by Goffman, based on a qualitative research study on abortion. It is argued that women attending for abortion are stigmatised and nurses, although 'wise', have an affiliate stigma through their close association with the procedure. It is proposed that the situation can be ameliorated by addressing stigma at policy, local and personal levels. Examples from other areas of practice are outlined for possible application to practice.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / nursing*
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychological Theory
  • Public Policy
  • Social Stigma*
  • Social Support
  • Wales