Clinical follow-up compared with self-assessment of outcome after medical abortion: a multicentre, non-inferiority, randomised, controlled trial

Lancet. 2015 Feb 21;385(9969):698-704. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61054-0. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


Background: Medical abortion with mifepristone and prostaglandins is well established. We compared clinical assessment with self-assessment of abortion outcome.

Methods: This randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial was done in four clinics in Austria, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, between Aug 16, 2011, and Jan 31, 2013. Women aged 18 years and older who had requested medical termination of a pregnancy up to 63 days of gestation were eligible. Computer-generated block randomisation (block size ten) assigned women in a 1:1 ratio to attend routine clinical follow-up or to self-assess outcome at home with a semiquantitative urine human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test 1-3 weeks after abortion. The primary outcome was the percentage of women with complete abortion not requiring further medical or surgical intervention within 3 months. Analysis was per protocol and by intention to treat. The non-inferiority margin was five percentage points. This trial is registered with, number NCT01487213.

Findings: 924 women were assigned routine follow-up (n=466) or self-assessment (n=458) and included in the intention-to-treat analysis. 901 were included in the per-protocol analysis (n=446 and n=455, respectively). Complete abortion was reported in 432 (95%) of 455 in the routine follow-up group and 419 (94%) of 446 women in the self-assessment group (crude difference -1·0, 95% CI -4·0 to 2·0). 20 (4%) women in the routine follow-up group and 17 (4%) in the self-assessment group required surgery. No women in the routine follow-up group versus three in the self-assessment group had undetected continuing pregnancies. Eight (1·8%) and one (0·2%) women, respectively, had infections (p=0·038).

Interpretation: Self-assessment was non-inferior to routine follow-up and could save resources.

Funding: Nordic Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, European Society of Contraception, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helse Finnmark, Swedish Research Council, and Stockholm County Council and Karolinska University Hospital.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Adult
  • Austria
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / urine
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mifepristone / therapeutic use*
  • Norway
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Tests / standards
  • Prostaglandins / therapeutic use*
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Prostaglandins
  • Mifepristone

Associated data