Shifting abortion care from a hospital to a community sexual and reproductive health care setting

Sharon T Cameron, Anna Glasier, Anne Johnstone

Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 2016;42:127-132


Community sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services are well placed to deliver abortion assessment services and early medical abortion (EMA), but comparative data on safety and acceptability from both settings are important for future service planning. Methods: Retrospective review of computerised records of 1,342 women undergoing outpatient EMA (≤9 weeks) in a community SRH or hospital department of gynaecology in the same city, and a self-completed, anonymous survey of 303 women requesting abortion at both sites. Primary outcome was safety in terms of re-attendance rates for a complication related to EMA. Secondary outcomes were telephone contact with each site for an EMA-related concern and satisfaction with information about abortion (defined as score out of 10) received at each site. Results: There was no difference in re-attendance rates to either service for a complication following outpatient EMA (2.7%). A higher proportion of women undergoing EMA at the SRH site made telephone contact compared to women at the hospital site (18.8% vs 10.8%; p=0.033). Women rated both settings highly in terms of information received before abortion (9.2 and 9.6 out of 10) at the hospital and SRH sites, respectively. Conclusions: This study suggests that provision of outpatient EMA in a community SRH setting is as safe as that delivered from a hospital setting, and that women are similarly satisfied with the information they receive about abortion from each setting. More abortion assessment and outpatient EMA services in Great Britain could shift from hospital to community SRH settings.