Background: Unsafe abortion imposes heavy burdens on both individuals and society, particularly in low-income countries, many of which have restrictive abortion laws. Providing family planning counseling and services to women following an abortion has emerged as a key strategy to address this issue.
Study design: This systematic review gathered, appraised and synthesized recent research evidence on the effects of postabortion family planning counseling and services on women in low-income countries.
Results: Of the 2965 potentially relevant records that were identified and screened, 15 studies satisfied the inclusion criteria. None provided evidence on the effectiveness of postabortion family planning counseling and services on maternal morbidity and mortality. One controlled study found that, compared to the group of nonbeneficiaries, women who received postabortion family planning counseling and services had significantly fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer repeat abortions during the 12-month follow-up period. All 15 studies examined contraception-related outcomes. In the seven studies which used a comparative design, there was greater acceptance and/or use of modern contraceptives in women who had received postabortion family planning counseling and services relative to the no-program group.
Conclusions: The current evidence on the use of postabortion family planning counseling and services in low-income countries to address the problem of unsafe abortion is inconclusive. Nevertheless, the increase in acceptance and/or use of contraceptives is encouraging and has the potential to be further explored. Adequate funding to support robust research in this area of reproductive health is urgently needed.
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