Abortion providers, stigma and professional quality of life

Contraception. 2014 Dec;90(6):581-7. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2014.07.011. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Objectives: The Providers Share Workshop (PSW) provides abortion providers safe space to discuss their work experiences. Our objectives were to assess changes in abortion stigma over time and explore how stigma is related to aspects of professional quality of life, including compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue for providers participating in the workshops.

Study design: Seventy-nine providers were recruited to the PSW study. Surveys were completed prior to, immediately following and 1 year after the workshops. The outcome measures were the Abortion Provider Stigma Survey and the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) survey. Baseline ProQOL scores were compared to published averages using t tests. Changes in abortion stigma and aspects of professional quality of life were assessed by fitting a two-level random-effects model with repeated measures at level 1 (period-level) and static measures (e.g., demographic data) at level 2 (person-level). Potential covariates included age, parenting status, education, organizational tenure, job type and clinic type (stand-alone vs. hospital-based clinics).

Results: Compared to other healthcare workers, abortion providers reported higher compassion satisfaction (t=2.65, p=.009) and lower burnout (t=5.13, p<.0001). Repeated-measures analysis revealed statistically significant decreases in stigma over time. Regression analysis identified abortion stigma as a significant predictor of lower compassion satisfaction, higher burnout and higher compassion fatigue.

Conclusions: Participants in PSW reported a reduction in abortion stigma over time. Further, stigma is an important predictor of compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue, suggesting that interventions aimed at supporting the abortion providing workforce should likely assess abortion stigma.

Implications: Stigma is an important predictor of compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue among abortion care providers. Therefore, strengthening human resources for abortion care requires stigma reduction efforts. Participants in the PSWs show reductions in stigma over time.

Keywords: Abortion stigma; Professional quality of life; Providers Share Workshop; Workplace interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Empathy
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Stigma
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors