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.