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2.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(14)2022 Jul 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1938774

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Mifepristone (RU-486) has been approved for abortion in Taiwan since 2000. Mifepristone was the first non-addictive medicine to be classified as a schedule IV controlled drug. As a case of the "misuse" of "misuse of drugs laws," the policy and consequences of mifepristone-assisted abortion for pregnant women could be compared with those of illicit drug use for drug addicts. METHODS: The rule-making process of mifepristone regulation was analyzed from various aspects of legitimacy, social stigma, women's human rights, and access to health care. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The restriction policy on mifepristone regulation in Taiwan has raised concerns over the legitimacy of listing a non-addictive substance as a controlled drug, which may produce stigma and negatively affect women's reproductive and privacy rights. Such a restriction policy and social stigma may lead to the unwillingness of pregnant women to utilize safe abortion services. Under the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US FDA's action on mifepristone prescription and dispensing reminds us it is time to consider a change of policy. CONCLUSIONS: Listing mifepristone as a controlled drug could impede the acceptability and accessibility of safe mifepristone use and violates women's right to health care.


Subject(s)
Mifepristone , Public Policy , Abortion, Induced/methods , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Mifepristone/therapeutic use , Pandemics , Pregnancy , Women's Health
3.
Contraception ; 110: 48-55, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1763674

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Travel restrictions, physical distancing and quarantine requirements, lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 have impacted abortion services across Canada. We aimed to explore the decision-making and care experiences of those who obtained abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic and understand recent abortion patients' perspectives on demedicalized models of medication abortion service delivery. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted 23 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with women across Canada who obtained abortion care after March 15, 2020. We audio-recorded and transcribed the telephone/Skype/Zoom interviews and managed our data with ATLAS.ti. We analyzed the English-language interviews for content and themes using inductive and deductive techniques. RESULTS: The COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated economic and social support uncertainties, factored into many of our participants' decisions to obtain an abortion. Participants expressed relief and gratitude for being able to secure abortion care during the pandemic. Although women in our study reflected positively on their abortion care experiences, many felt that service delivery changes initiated because of the public health emergency exacerbated pre-COVID-19 barriers to care and contributed to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Our participants expressed considerable enthusiasm for demedicalized models of medication abortion care, including telemedicine services and behind-the-counter availability of mifepristone/misoprostol. CONCLUSIONS: For our participants, abortion care constituted an essential health service. Our findings demonstrate the importance of continuing to provide access to safe, effective, and timely abortion care during public health emergencies. Exploring additional models of demedicalized medication abortion service delivery to address persistent access barriers in Canada is warranted. IMPLICATIONS: Policymakers and clinicians should consider patient experiences as well as clinical evidence when considering regulatory changes to facilitate access to abortion care during public health emergencies. Identifying a multitude of ways to offer a full range of abortion services, including demedicalized models of medication abortion care, has the potential to meet significant needs in the COVID-19 era and beyond. The COVID pandemic highlights the need for demedicalized models, not only for the sake of those seeking abortion care but also to ease the burden on medical professionals during public health emergencies.


Subject(s)
Abortion, Induced , Abortion, Spontaneous , COVID-19 , Abortion, Induced/methods , Canada , Communicable Disease Control , Emergencies , Female , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Pandemics , Pregnancy
4.
Am J Obstet Gynecol ; 226(5): 710.e1-710.e21, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1588396

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Mifepristone, used together with misoprostol, is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for medication abortion through 10 weeks' gestation. Although in-person ultrasound is frequently used to establish medication abortion eligibility, previous research demonstrates that people seeking abortion early in pregnancy can accurately self-assess gestational duration using the date of their last menstrual period. OBJECTIVE: In this study, we establish the screening performance of a broader set of questions for self-assessment of gestational duration among a sample of people seeking abortion at a wide range of gestations. STUDY DESIGN: We surveyed patients seeking abortion at 7 facilities before ultrasound and compared self-assessments of gestational duration using 11 pregnancy dating questions with measurements on ultrasound. For individual pregnancy dating questions and combined questions, we established screening performance focusing on metrics of diagnostic accuracy, defined as the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, sensitivity (or the proportion of ineligible participants who correctly screened as ineligible for medication abortion), and proportion of false negatives (ie, the proportion of all participants who erroneously screened as eligible for medication abortion). We tested for differences in sensitivity across individual and combined questions using McNemar's test, and for differences in accuracy using the area under the receiver operating curve and Sidak adjusted P values. RESULTS: One-quarter (25%) of 1089 participants had a gestational duration of >70 days on ultrasound. Using the date of last menstrual period alone demonstrated 83.5% sensitivity (95% confidence interval, 78.4-87.9) in identifying participants with gestational durations of >70 days on ultrasound, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.82 (95% confidence interval, 0.79-0.85) and a proportion of false negatives of 4.0%. A composite measure of responses to questions on number of weeks pregnant, date of last menstrual period, and date they got pregnant demonstrated 89.1% sensitivity (95% confidence interval, 84.7-92.6) and an area under the receiver operating curve of 0.86 (95% confidence interval, 0.83-0.88), with 2.7% of false negatives. A simpler question set focused on being >10 weeks or >2 months pregnant or having missed 2 or more periods had comparable sensitivity (90.7%; 95% confidence interval, 86.6-93.9) and proportion of false negatives (2.3%), but with a slightly lower area under the receiver operating curve (0.82; 95% confidence interval, 0.79-0.84). CONCLUSION: In a sample representative of people seeking abortion nationally, broadening the screening questions for assessing gestational duration beyond the date of the last menstrual period resulted in improved accuracy and sensitivity of self-assessment at the 70-day threshold for medication abortion. Ultrasound assessment for medication abortion may not be necessary, especially when requiring ultrasound could increase COVID-19 risk or healthcare costs, restrict access, or limit patient choice.


Subject(s)
Abortion, Induced , Abortion, Spontaneous , COVID-19 , Misoprostol , Abortion, Induced/methods , Abortion, Spontaneous/drug therapy , Female , Gestational Age , Humans , Mifepristone/therapeutic use , Misoprostol/therapeutic use , Pregnancy , Self-Assessment
6.
BJOG ; 128(11): 1752-1761, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1429453

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To explore the experiences of women in Scotland who accessed medical abortion at home up to 12 weeks' gestation, delivered via a telemedicine abortion service implemented in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, to identify areas for improvement and inform service provision. DESIGN: Qualitative interview study. SETTING: Abortion service in one National Health Service health board in Scotland. POPULATION OR SAMPLE: Twenty women who accessed telemedicine abortion services and self-administered mifepristone and misoprostol at home up to 12 weeks' gestation. METHODS: Thematic analysis of semi-structured qualitative interviews, informed by the Framework analytic approach. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Women's experiences of accessing telemedicine for medical abortion at home, specifically: acceptability of the telephone consultation and remote support; views on no pre-abortion ultrasound scan; and self-administration of abortion medications at home. RESULTS: Novel study findings were three-fold: (1) participants valued the option of accessing abortion care via telemedicine and emphasised the benefits of providing a choice of telephone and in-person consultation to suit those with different life circumstances; (2) the quality of abortion care was enhanced by the telemedicine service in relation to access, comfort and flexibility, and ongoing telephone support; (3) participants described being comfortable with, and in some cases a preference for, not having an ultrasound scan. CONCLUSIONS: This research demonstrates support for the continuation of telemedicine abortion services beyond the temporary arrangements in place during COVID-19, and lends weight to the argument that offering the option of telemedicine abortion care can enable women to access this essential health service. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: #Telemedicine provision of medical #abortion at home up to 12 weeks' gestation is acceptable and highly valued by #women #Research #SRHR @nbw80 @doctorjjrw @jeniharden @cameronsharon @mrc_crh @edinuniusher.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal/administration & dosage , Abortion, Induced/methods , Patient Satisfaction , Self Administration/psychology , Telemedicine/methods , Abortion, Induced/psychology , Adult , COVID-19 , Female , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Mifepristone/administration & dosage , Misoprostol/administration & dosage , Pregnancy , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , Scotland , State Medicine
9.
Implement Sci ; 16(1): 76, 2021 08 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1341470

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Since Canadian drug regulatory approval of mifepristone for medical abortion in 2015 and its market availability in January 2017, the role of pharmacists in abortion provision has changed rapidly. We sought to identify the factors that influenced the initiation and provision of medical abortion from the perspectives of Canadian pharmacists, bridging two frameworks - Diffusion of Innovation in Health Service Organizations and integrated knowledge translation. METHODS: We conducted one-on-one semi-structured interviews with pharmacists residing in Canada who intended to stock and dispense mifepristone within the first year of availability. Our data collection, analysis, and interpretation were guided by reflexive thematic analysis and supported by an integrated knowledge translation partnership with pharmacy stakeholders. RESULTS: We completed interviews with 24 participants from across Canada: 33% had stocked and 21% had dispensed mifepristone. We found that pharmacists were willing and able to integrate medical abortion care into their practice and that those who had initiated practice were satisfied with their dispensing experience. Our analysis indicated that several key Diffusion of Innovation constructs impacted the uptake of mifepristone, including: innovation (relative advantage, complexity and compatibility, technical support), system readiness (innovation-system fit, dedicated time, resources), diffusion and dissemination (expert opinion, boundary spanners, champions, social networks, peer opinions), implementation (external collaboration), and linkage. Participants' experiences suggest that integrated knowledge translation facilitated evidence-based changes to mifepristone dispensing restrictions, and communication of those changes to front line pharmacists. CONCLUSIONS: We illustrate how Diffusion of Innovation and integrated knowledge translation may work together as complimentary frameworks for implementation science research. Unlike in the USA, UK, and other highly regulated settings globally, pharmacists in Canada are permitted to dispense mifepristone for medical abortion. We contribute to literature that shows that mifepristone dispensed outside of hospitals, clinics, and medical offices is safe and acceptable to both patients and prescribers. This finding is of particular importance to the current COVID-19 pandemic response and calls for continued and equitable access to abortion care in primary practice.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal/administration & dosage , Abortion, Induced/methods , Diffusion of Innovation , Mifepristone/administration & dosage , Pharmacists/statistics & numerical data , /methods , Canada , Humans , Interviews as Topic
10.
BJOG ; 128(9): 1464-1474, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1337350

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To compare outcomes before and after implementation of medical abortion (termination of pregnancy) without ultrasound via telemedicine. DESIGN: Cohort analysis. SETTING: The three main abortion providers. POPULATION OR SAMPLE: Medical abortions at home at ≤69 days' gestation in two cohorts: traditional model (in-person with ultrasound, n = 22 158) from January to March 2020 versus telemedicine-hybrid model (either in person or via telemedicine without ultrasound, n = 29 984, of whom 18 435 had no-test telemedicine) between April and June 2020. Sample (n = 52 142) comprises 85% of all medical abortions provided nationally. METHODS: Data from electronic records and incident databases were used to compare outcomes between cohorts, adjusted for baseline differences. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Treatment success, serious adverse events, waiting times, gestation at treatment, acceptability. RESULTS: Mean waiting time from referral to treatment was 4.2 days shorter in the telemedicine-hybrid model and more abortions were provided at ≤6 weeks' gestation (40% versus 25%, P < 0.001). Treatment success (98.8% versus 98.2%, P > 0.999), serious adverse events (0.02% versus 0.04%, P = 0.557) and incidence of ectopic pregnancy (0.2% versus 0.2%, P = 0.796) were not different between models. In the telemedicine-hybrid model, 0.04% were estimated to be over 10 weeks' gestation at the time of the abortion; all were completed safely at home. Within the telemedicine-hybrid model, effectiveness was higher with telemedicine than in-person care (99.2% versus 98.1%, P < 0.001). Acceptability of telemedicine was high (96% satisfied) and 80% reported a future preference for telemedicine. CONCLUSIONS: A telemedicine-hybrid model for medical abortion that includes no-test telemedicine and treatment without an ultrasound is effective, safe, acceptable and improves access to care. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: Compelling evidence from 52 142 women shows no-test telemedicine abortion is safe, effective and improves care.


Subject(s)
Abortion, Induced/methods , Telemedicine/methods , Abortion, Induced/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/epidemiology , Case-Control Studies , Cohort Studies , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Pandemics , Pregnancy , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine/statistics & numerical data , Ultrasonography, Prenatal/statistics & numerical data
11.
Sex Reprod Health Matters ; 29(2): 1920566, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1254261

ABSTRACT

India has the world's fastest growing outbreak of COVID-19. With limited mobility, increased reports of intimate partner violence, changes in living patterns of migrants, delays in accessing contraception and safe abortion care, and potential changes to decisions about parenting, there may be an increased need for abortion services in India due to the pandemic. The use of technology for providing abortion information and services has been well documented in global literature. The safety of abortion provision using telehealth has been established in several contexts including the United States and Australia. The importance of hotlines and other support systems that use technology to provide information and support to clients through their abortion is also highlighted in the literature. Several countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, and Pakistan are now allowing the use of technology for abortion/post-abortion care in light of the pandemic; however, India's telemedicine guidelines do not include abortion. In a country where the majority of abortions take place outside the health system, allowing the use of telemedicine for abortion can help bring legality to users, and expand access to those facing additional barriers in accessing the care they deserve. We outline models for telemedicine provision of abortion in India and discuss the regulatory changes required to make telehealth for abortion a reality in India.


Subject(s)
Abortion, Induced/methods , Abortion, Induced/standards , Guidelines as Topic , Health Services Accessibility , Telemedicine/methods , Telemedicine/standards , Abortion, Induced/legislation & jurisprudence , COVID-19/prevention & control , Female , Humans , India/epidemiology , Pregnancy , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine/legislation & jurisprudence
12.
Contraception ; 104(1): 82-91, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1222886

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To overcome obstacles to delivering medication abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic, clinics and providers implemented new medication abortion service models not requiring in-person care. This study identifies organizational factors that promoted successful implementation of telehealth and adoption of "no test" medication abortion protocols. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted 21 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with health care providers and clinic administrators implementing clinician-supported telehealth abortion during the COVID pandemic. We selected 15 clinical sites to represent 4 different practice settings: independent primary care practices, online medical services, specialty family planning clinics, and primary care clinics within multispecialty health systems. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research guided our thematic analysis. RESULTS: Successful implementation of telehealth abortion included access to formal and informal inter-organizational networks, including professional organizations and informal mentorship relationships with innovators in the field; organizational readiness for implementation, such as having clinic resources available for telehealth services like functional electronic health records and options for easy-to-use virtual patient-provider interactions; and motivated and effective clinic champions. CONCLUSIONS: In response to the need to offer remote clinical services, 4 different practice settings types leveraged key operational factors to facilitate successful implementation of telehealth abortion. Information from this study can inform implementation strategies to support the dissemination and adoption of this model. IMPLICATIONS: Examples of successfully implemented telehealth medication abortion services provide a framework that can be used to inform and implement similar patient-centered telehealth models in diverse practice settings.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents/therapeutic use , Abortion, Induced/methods , Ambulatory Care Facilities/organization & administration , Health Personnel , Primary Health Care/organization & administration , Telemedicine/organization & administration , COVID-19 , Electronic Health Records , Humans , Implementation Science , Organizational Innovation , Patient Participation , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine/methods , United States
13.
Contraception ; 104(3): 289-295, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1216311

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To explore US provider perspectives about self-sourced medication abortion and how their attitudes and clinic practices changed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a multi-method study of survey and interview data. We performed 40 baseline interviews and surveys in spring 2019 and 36 follow-up surveys and ten interviews one year later. We compared pre- and post-Likert scale responses of provider views on the importance of different aspects of standard medication abortion assessment and evaluation (e.g., related to ultrasounds and blood-typing). We performed content analysis of the follow-up interviews using deductive-inductive analysis. RESULTS: Survey results revealed that clinics substantially changed their medication abortion protocols in response to COVID-19, with more than half increasing their gestational age limits and introducing telemedicine for follow-up of a medication abortion. Interview analysis suggested that physicians were more supportive of self-sourced medication abortion in response to changing clinic protocols that decreased in-clinic assessment and evaluation for medication abortion, and as a result of physicians' altered assessments of risk in the context of COVID-19. Having evidence already in place that supported these practice changes made the implementation of new protocols more efficient, while working in a state with restrictive abortion policies thwarted the flexibility of clinics to adapt to changes in standards of care. CONCLUSION: This exploratory study reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered clinical assessment of risk and has shifted practice towards a less medicalized model. Further work to facilitate person-centered abortion information and care can build on initial modifications in response to the pandemic. IMPLICATIONS: COVID-19 has shifted clinician perception of risk and has catalyzed a change in clinical protocols for medication abortion. However, state laws and policies that regulate medication abortion limit physician ability to respond to changes in risk assessment.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents/therapeutic use , Abortion, Induced/methods , Abortion, Induced/trends , Attitude of Health Personnel , COVID-19/prevention & control , Physicians/psychology , Practice Patterns, Physicians'/trends , Adult , Aftercare/methods , Aftercare/trends , Clinical Protocols , Female , Health Policy , Humans , Interviews as Topic , Male , Middle Aged , Risk Assessment , Self Administration , Surveys and Questionnaires , United States
14.
Contraception ; 104(1): 67-72, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1209438

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To understand how obtaining a medication abortion by mail with telemedicine counseling versus traditional in-clinic care impacted participants' access to care. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a qualitative study with semi-structured telephone interviews with individuals who completed a medication abortion by mail through the TelAbortion study. We asked participants how they learned about telemedicine abortion, reasons for choosing it, what their alternative would have been, and about their experience. We transcribed, coded, and performed qualitative content analysis of the interviews and are presenting a subset of themes related to access to care when the restrictions on clinic dispensing of mifepristone are removed. RESULTS: We interviewed 45 people from January to July 2020. Direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion was more convenient and accessible than in-clinic abortion care when considering the burdens of travel, clinic availability, logistics, and cost that were associated with in-clinic abortion. Stigma led to a prioritization of privacy, and by going to a clinic, participants feared a loss of privacy whereas obtaining a medication abortion by mail made it easier to maintain confidentiality. Faced with these barriers, 13% of participants stated they would have continued their pregnancy if TelAbortion had not been an option. Participants found direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion to be acceptable and recommended it to others. Benefits of telemedicine were amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic due to concerns around infection exposure with in-clinic care. CONCLUSION: Going to a clinic was a burden for participants, to the point where some would not have otherwise been able to get an abortion. Medication abortion by mail with telemedicine counseling was a highly acceptable alternative. IMPLICATIONS: Medication abortion by mail can increase access to abortion with the added benefits of increased perceived privacy and decreased logistical burdens. Removing the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone would allow direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion to be implemented outside of a research setting without compromising the patient experience.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents/therapeutic use , Abortion, Induced/methods , Attitude to Health , Health Services Accessibility , Postal Service , Telemedicine/methods , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19 , Confidentiality , Drug and Narcotic Control , Female , Humans , Middle Aged , Pregnancy , Qualitative Research , Risk Evaluation and Mitigation , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Stigma , United States , United States Food and Drug Administration , Young Adult
15.
Contraception ; 104(1): 111-116, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1209123

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to characterize the combined impact of federal, state, and institutional policies on barriers to expanding medication and telemedicine abortion care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic in the abortion-restrictive states of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. STUDY DESIGN: We analyzed 4 state policies, 2 COVID-related state executive orders, and clinic-level survey data on medication abortion provision from fourteen abortion facilities in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia from December 2019 to December 2020. We calculated the percent of medication abortions provided at these facilities during the study period by state, to assess changes in medication abortion use during the pandemic. RESULTS: We ascertained that COVID-19-executive orders in Ohio and West Virginia that limited procedural abortion in Spring 2020 coincided with an increase in the overall number and proportion of medication abortions in this region, peaking at 1613 medication abortions (70%) in April 2020. Ohio and West Virginia, which had executive orders limiting procedural abortion, saw relatively greater increases in April compared to Kentucky. Despite temporary lifting of the mifepristone REMS, prepandemic regulations banning telemedicine abortion in Kentucky and West Virginia and requiring in-person clinic visits for medication abortion distribution in Ohio limited clinics' ability to adapt to offer medication abortion by mail. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings illustrate how restrictive medication and telemedicine abortion policies in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia created additional obstacles for patients seeking medication abortion during the pandemic. Permanently lifting federal regulations on in-clinic distribution of mifepristone would only advantage abortion seekers in states without restrictive telehealth and medication abortion policies. State policies that limit access to comprehensive abortion services should be central in larger efforts toward dismantling barriers that impinge upon reproductive autonomy. IMPLICATION STATEMENT: We find that abolishing the REMS on mifepristone would not be enough to expand access to patients in abortion-restrictive states with telemedicine and medication abortion laws. While the REMS is a barrier, it represents one of several hindrances to the expansion of telemedicine abortion distribution across the United States.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents/therapeutic use , Abortion, Induced/legislation & jurisprudence , COVID-19 , Postal Service , Telemedicine/legislation & jurisprudence , Abortion, Induced/methods , Drug and Narcotic Control , Elective Surgical Procedures , Federal Government , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Kentucky , Ohio , Public Policy , Risk Evaluation and Mitigation , SARS-CoV-2 , State Government , Telemedicine/organization & administration , West Virginia
16.
Contraception ; 104(1): 77-81, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1198678

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To document medication abortion clinical practice changes adopted by providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. STUDY DESIGN: Longitudinal descriptive study, comprised of three online surveys conducted between April to December, 2020. We recruited sites from email lists of national abortion and family planning organizations. RESULTS: Seventy-four sites opted to participate. We analyzed 55/74 sites (74%) that provided medication abortion and completed all three surveys. The total number of abortion encounters reported by the sites remained consistent throughout the study period, though medication abortion encounters increased while first-trimester aspiration abortion encounters decreased. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sites reduced the number of in-person visits associated with medication abortion and confirmation of successful termination. In February 2020, considered prepandemic, 39/55 sites (71%) required 2 or more patient visits for a medication abortion. By April 2020, 19/55 sites (35%) reported reducing the total number of in-person visits associated with a medication abortion. As of October 2020, 37 sites indicated newly adopting a practice of offering medication abortion follow-up with no in-person visits. CONCLUSIONS: Sites quickly adopted protocols incorporating practices that are well-supported in the literature, including forgoing Rh-testing and pre-abortion ultrasound in some circumstances and relying on patient report of symptoms or home pregnancy tests to confirm successful completion of medication abortion. Importantly, these practices reduce face-to-face interactions and the opportunity for virus transmission. Sustaining these changes even after the public health crisis is over may increase patient access to abortion, and these impacts should be evaluated in future research. IMPLICATIONS STATEMENT: Medication abortion serves a critical function in maintaining access to abortion when there are limitations to in-person clinic visits. Sites throughout the country successfully and quickly adopted protocols that reduced visits associated with the abortion, reducing in-person screenings, relying on telehealth, and implementing remote follow-up.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents , Abortion, Induced/methods , Abortion, Induced/trends , COVID-19/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Practice Patterns, Physicians'/trends , Telemedicine/trends , Aftercare/methods , Aftercare/trends , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Health Care Surveys , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Pregnancy , Telemedicine/methods , United States/epidemiology
18.
Contraception ; 104(1): 104-110, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1179394

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We explored public opinion about using telemedicine to provide medication abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. We also investigated the associations between socio-demographic characteristics and support for using telemedicine in this context and explored factors that influenced respondents' attitudes on the topic. STUDY DESIGN: In a nationally representative, web-based survey of US adults (n = 711), we asked open- and closed-ended questions about using telemedicine to prescribe medication abortion during COVID-19. We used multinomial logistic regression to assess the relationship between socio-demographic characteristics, endorsement of abortion labels, and political affiliation and support for telemedicine in this circumstance. Then, we conducted content and thematic analyses with the open-ended data to explore what influenced respondents' opinions. RESULTS: Overall, 332 (44%) of respondents supported using telemedicine for medication abortion during the pandemic; 237 (35%) opposed and 138 (21%) were unsure. Respondents who identified as prochoice were more likely to support using telemedicine for abortion during the pandemic than those who identified as prolife were to oppose it in this context (RRR 2.95; 95% CI 1.31-6.64). Via our content and thematic analysis, we identified that concerns about safety, the legitimacy of telemedicine, and the belief that abortion should occur as early in the pregnancy as possible influenced respondents' beliefs about using telemedicine for medication abortion. CONCLUSIONS: More respondents supported using telemedicine for medication abortion during COVID-19 than opposed it. Among respondents who expressed support, most thought that medication abortion was safe and that telemedicine was equivalent to the in-person provision of care. IMPLICATIONS: There appears to be support among US adults for the provision of medication abortion via telemedicine during COVID-19. Policymakers may consider public sentiment as well as clinical evidence when considering legislation about abortion.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents , Abortion, Induced/methods , Attitude to Health , COVID-19/prevention & control , Telemedicine , Adult , Female , Health Care Surveys , Humans , Logistic Models , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Safety , Pregnancy , Qualitative Research , United States
19.
Contraception ; 104(1): 38-42, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1179393

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted health care delivery in all aspects of medicine, including abortion care. For 6 months, the mifepristone Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) was temporarily blocked, allowing for the remote provision of medication abortion. Remote medication abortion may become a dominant model of care in the future, either through the formal health system or through self-sourced, self-managed abortion. Clinics already face pressure from falling abortion rates and excessive regulation and with a transition to remote abortion, may not be able to sustain services. Although remote medication abortion improves access for many, those who need or want in-clinic care such as people later in pregnancy, people for whom abortion at home is not safe or feasible, or people who are not eligible for medication abortion, will need comprehensive support to access safe and appropriate care. To understand how we may adapt to remote abortion without leaving people behind, we can look outside of the U.S. to become familiar with emerging and alternative models of abortion care.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal/therapeutic use , Abortion, Induced/methods , Mifepristone/therapeutic use , Postal Service , Telemedicine/methods , Abortion, Induced/trends , Ambulatory Care Facilities , COVID-19 , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Risk Evaluation and Mitigation , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine/trends , United States
20.
Contraception ; 104(1): 49-53, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1157218

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate the effectiveness of medication abortion with the implementation of telemedicine and a no-test protocol in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. STUDY DESIGN: This is a retrospective cohort study of patients who had a medication abortion up to 77 days gestation at the University of Hawai'i between April and November 2020. Patients had the option of traditional in clinic care or telemedicine with either in clinic pickup or mailing of medications. During this time, a no-test protocol for medication abortion without prior labs or ultrasound was in place for eligible patients. The primary outcome was the rate of successful medication abortion without surgical intervention. Secondary outcomes included abortion-related complications. RESULTS: A total of 334 patients were dispensed mifepristone and misoprostol, 149 (44.6%) with telemedicine with in-person pickup of medications, 75 (22.5%) via telemedicine with medications mailed, and 110 (32.9%) via traditional in person visits. The overall rate of complete medication abortion without surgical intervention was 95.8%, with success rates of 96.8, 97.1, and 93.6% for the clinic pickup, mail, and clinic visit groups, respectively. Success for those without an ultrasound performed prior to the procedure was 96.6%, compared to 95.5% for those with ultrasound. We obtained follow-up data for 87.8% of participants. CONCLUSIONS: Medication abortion was safe and effective while offering multiple modes of care delivery including telemedicine visits without an ultrasound performed prior to dispensing medications. IMPLICATIONS: Incorporating telemedicine and a no-test protocol for medication abortion is safe and has the potential to expand access to abortion care. All care models had low rates of adverse events, which contradicts the idea that the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategyincreases the safety of medication abortion.


Subject(s)
Abortifacient Agents , Abortion, Induced/methods , COVID-19/prevention & control , Mifepristone , Misoprostol , Telemedicine/methods , Abortion, Induced/adverse effects , Adult , Aftercare/methods , Aftercare/trends , Female , Hawaii , Humans , Outcome Assessment, Health Care , Pregnancy , Retrospective Studies , Ultrasonography, Prenatal
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