Emotional distress following induced abortion: a study of its incidence and determinants among abortees in Malmö, Sweden

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1998 Aug;79(2):173-8. doi: 10.1016/s0301-2115(98)00084-0.


Objective: To study incidence and determinants of emotional distress following induced abortion.

Setting: Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lund University, University Hospital Malmö, Sweden.

Subjects: A series of 854 participants at 12-month postabortion follow-up, representing 66.5% of the 1285 women undergoing induced abortion at Malmö, 1989.

Methods: Analysis of data elicited at a semistructured interview 1 year after induced abortion, risk factors for emotional distress being determined in a "case" subgroup (n = 139) of women satisfying all the inclusion criteria (i.e., postabortion emotional distress, doubts about abortion decision, would not consider abortion again), as compared with a control group (n = 114) satisfying none of the inclusion criteria. The study design is a retrospective study.

Results: In the subgroup with emotional distress (duration ranging from 1 month to still present at 12-month follow-up), the following risk factors were identified: living alone, poor emotional support from family and friends, adverse postabortion change in relations with partner, underlying ambivalence or adverse attitude to abortion, and being actively religious.

Conclusions: Thus, 50-60% of women undergoing induced abortion experienced some measure of emotional distress, classified as severe in 30% of cases. The risk factors identified suggest that it may be possible to ameliorate or even prevent such distress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology*
  • Attitude
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Social Support