A Problem-Based Learning Session on Pregnancy Options, Counseling, and Abortion Care

MedEdPORTAL. 2019 Mar 15;15:10816. doi: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10816.


Introduction: Before their clinical rotations, medical students have limited exposure to women's health issues, particularly abortion.

Methods: We piloted a problem-based learning (PBL) module to introduce second-year medical students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine to counseling patients about pregnancy options. Students were divided into groups of 10 and met for two 2-hour sessions. In the first session, learners were presented with a case about a woman diagnosed with Zika virus who was considering pregnancy termination. Students discussed the case and developed learning objectives to research. One week later, students reconvened and shared what they had learned individually. Students were asked to complete pre- and post-PBL surveys. PBL facilitators also completed a survey evaluating the module.

Results: Fifty-eight percent of students felt informed or very informed about abortion after the PBL, compared to 30% before (p < .001). Students' mean quiz score increased from 29% on the pretest to 40% on the posttest (p < .001). Ninety-three percent of facilitators believed this PBL provided students with tools to better counsel about abortion, but only 56% of faculty felt adequately trained to facilitate this discussion.

Discussion: Students appreciated this PBL as an opportunity to discuss pregnancy options counseling and to clarify their own values surrounding abortion provision. Despite their positive response to the module, students identified barriers that would prevent them from implementing knowledge learned from this module in practice.

Keywords: Abortion; Counseling; Medical Ethics; Preclinical Medical Education; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Complications; Problem-Based Learning; Professionalism.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Counseling*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Zika Virus / immunology
  • Zika Virus Infection / congenital*