Homelessness, housing instability, and abortion outcomes at an urban abortion clinic in the United States

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Dec;223(6):892.e1-892.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.07.002. Epub 2020 Jul 5.

Abstract

Background: Adverse reproductive health outcomes are well documented among people experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Little is known about abortion outcomes among this population.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between housing status and abortion outcomes and whether gestational age mediates this relationship.

Study design: Our sample comprised 1903 individuals who had abortions at an urban clinic in San Francisco, CA, from 2015 to 2017. We defined homelessness or housing instability as a binary exposure, which included staying outside, with friends and/or family, or in a tent, vehicle, shelter, transitional program, or hotel. We evaluated gestational duration of ≥20 weeks as a mediator variable. Our primary outcome was any abortion complication. Logistic regression models were adjusted for age, race, substance use, mental health diagnoses, and previous vaginal and cesarean deliveries.

Results: Approximately 19% (n=356) of abortions were among people experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Compared with those with stable housing, people experiencing homelessness or housing instability presented later in pregnancy (mean gestational duration, 13.3 vs 9.5 weeks; P<.001) and had more frequent complications (6.5% vs 2.8%; P<.001; odds ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-3.9). Adjusting for race, substance use, mental health diagnoses, and previous cesarean deliveries, individuals experiencing homelessness or housing instability were more likely to have abortion complications (odds ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-4.0). However, the relationship was attenuated after adjusting for gestational duration (odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-2.6), suggesting that gestational duration mediates the relationship between housing status and abortion complications.

Conclusion: Patients experiencing homelessness or housing instability presented later in gestation, which seems to contribute to the increased frequency of abortion complications.

Keywords: abortion; homelessness; housing status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents / therapeutic use
  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Asian Americans
  • Cervix Uteri / injuries
  • Cervix Uteri / surgery
  • Cesarean Section
  • Dilatation and Curettage*
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Homeless Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Intraoperative Complications / therapy
  • Lacerations
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / drug therapy
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Urban Health Services
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Uterine Inertia / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Inertia / therapy
  • Uterine Perforation / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Perforation / therapy
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Abortifacient Agents