About the study
Published in JAMA Network Open
Importance Patients attending US abortion clinics may consider or try self-managing their abortion before coming to the clinic, yet little is known about the factors associated with self-management behavior.
Objective To examine the prevalence and factors associated with considering or attempting a self-managed abortion before attending a clinic.
Design, Setting, and Participants This survey study included patients obtaining an abortion at 49 independent, Planned Parenthood, and academic-affiliated clinics chosen to maximize diversity in geographic, state policy, and demographic context in 29 states between December 2018 and May 2020. Data were analyzed from December 2020 to July 2021.
Main Outcomes and Measures Knowledge of medications used to self-manage an abortion, having considered medication self-management before attending the clinic, having considered any method of self-management before attending the clinic, and having tried any method of self-management before attending the clinic.
Results The study included 19 830 patients, of which 99.6.% (17 823 patients) identified as female; 60.9% (11 834 patients) were aged 20 to 29 years; 29.6% (5824 patients) identified as Black, 19.3% (3799 patients) as Hispanic, and 36.0% (7095 patients) as non-Hispanic White; 44.1% (8252 patients) received social services; and 78.3% (15 197 patients) were 10 weeks pregnant or less. Approximately 1 in 3 (34%) knew about self-managed medication abortion, and among this subsample of 6750 patients, 1 in 6 (1079 patients [16.1%]) had considered using medications to self-manage before attending the clinic. Among the full sample, 1 in 8 (11.7%) considered self-managing using any method before clinic attendance, and among this subsample of 2328 patients, almost 1 in 3 (670 patients [28.8%]) attempted to do so. Preference for at-home abortion care was associated with considering medication self-management (odds ratio [OR], 3.52; 95% CI, 2.94-4.21), considering any method of self-management (OR, 2.80; 95% CI, 2.50-3.13), and attempting any method of self-management (OR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.10-1.69). Experiencing clinic access barriers was also associated with considering medication self-management (OR, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.69-2.32) and considering any method of self-management (OR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.89-2.32).
Conclusions and Relevance In this survey study, considering self-managed abortion was common before accessing in-clinic care, particularly among those on the margins of access or with a preference for at-home care. These findings suggest a need for expanded access to telemedicine and other decentralized abortion care models.