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Women’s experiences of self-administration of misoprostol at home as part of early medical abortion: a qualitative evaluation

Abstract

Background Between 2017 and 2019, legislation was introduced in the UK that approved the home as a place for self-administration of misoprostol for early medical abortion. While research has shown that early medical abortion at home is as safe as in a clinical setting, women’s experiences in the UK in the light of this change have not yet been investigated. This qualitative research explored the experiences of women in one region of Scotland, UK who accessed early medical abortion with home self-administration of misoprostol.

Methods Qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 women who had recently undergone early medical abortion (≤69 days' gestation) with home self-administration of misoprostol. The data were analysed thematically using an approach informed by the Framework analytic approach.

Results Women appreciated the flexibility that home administration of misoprostol offered, including the opportunity to control the timing of the abortion. This was particularly important for women who sought not to disclose the abortion to others. Most women valued being in the comfort and privacy of the home when preparing for self-administration, although a small number highlighted some concerns about being at home. Most women reported that self-administration of misoprostol was straightforward; however, some expressed concerns around assessing whether their experiences were ‘normal’.

Conclusions Women welcomed the opportunity for home self-administration of misoprostol. To further improve women’s early medical abortion experience we suggest that the legislation be amended so that women can self-administer in an appropriate non-clinical setting, not just their home.

  • abortion, induced
  • health services research
  • qualitative research
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