The Use of a Stress and Coping Model to Understand Women's Experiences with Abortion

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Virginia Tech

Six women participated in a qualitative study to understand women's experiences with abortion. The women ranged in age from 52 to 26, and were at least five years post-abortion. A questionnaire was developed using a stress and coping model as a guide to answer the following: relevant primary and reappraisal processes; problem-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies; resources; and personal and environmental constraints. The results give the women's individual experiences as well as the themes that were consistent for the participants. The women all appraised the situation of an unplanned pregnancy as stressful. All of the participants viewed having the child as a threat to their education, career, or relationship with family. Although all of the women thought some part of the procedure was more stressful than they had anticipated, all found ways to cope with differing levels of stress. The women saw their friends, family, ob-gyn physicians, priest, and clinic staff as resources during the experience. The women most often reported that religious beliefs constrained their abilities to cope. They also reported a lack of information about the abortion procedure and possible physical and emotional effects as environmental constraints. Overall, all but one participant would make the same decision, and all viewed themselves as coping well with a stressful life event.

Qualitative Interviews, Pregnancy Termination, Abortion, Stress and Coping, Women's Experiences