Psychosocial background factors and mental health-consequences of
induced abortion in Austrian women
Erika Baldaszti and Beate Wimmer-Puchinger
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Women’s Health Research, Vienna, Austria
Objective:The aim of this study was to gain knowledge about the role of psychosocial conditions, contraceptive use, partnership and sexuality in the decision-making process about unplanned pregnancies of Austrian women seeking abortion. Furthermore aspects of choosing medical or surgical abortion and the prevalence of post-abortion depression are addressed.
Materials and methods:350 women who underwent surgical abortion and 227 women choosing medical abortion answered a questionnaire after abortion; as controls 400 women continuing pregnancy answered after week 12 of gestation. A follow-up questionnaire was administered three months after abortion.
Results:Women who decided to terminate pregnancy were found to have more often instable partnerships. At the time of conception 40% of women undergoing an abortion had not used any contraceptive method, of those who did, 50% had used condoms; dissatisfaction with contraception was high. Comparing the medical to the surgical method of abortion satisfaction of women with both procedures is high. Depression score assessed by means of HAD Depression Scale was not increased at time of abortion or three months after. At time of abortion half the participants felt sure about their decision for termination of pregancy, three months after abortion two thirds of the women had the feeling that the decision for abortion was right.
Conclusions:Once more our results indicate that prevention of abortions is a matter of making contraceptives more accepted and easily obtainable for all groups in society. All women surveyed in this study decided to terminate pregnancy after a thoroughly reflexion about the basic conditions of their life. This can be seen as the main reason that mental health consequences after abortion like feelings of guilt, fear or depression were within a normal range.