Regional differences in surgical intervention following medical termination of pregnancy provided by telemedicine

Rebecca Gomperts, Sabine A M Petow, Kinga Jelinska, Louis Steen, Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, Gunilla Kleiverda
Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 2012, 91 (2): 226-31

OBJECTIVE: Analysis of factors influencing surgical intervention rate after home medical termination of pregnancy (TOP) by women in countries without access to safe services using the telemedical service 'Women on Web'.

DESIGN: Cohort study.

SETTING: Women with an unwanted pregnancy less than nine weeks pregnant who used the telemedicine service of Women on Web between February 2007 and September 2008 and provided follow-up information.

SAMPLE: Women who used medical TOP with a known follow up.

METHODS: Information from the online consultation, follow-up form and emails was used to analyze the outcome of the TOP.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ongoing pregnancy, reason for surgical intervention, perceived complications and satisfaction.

RESULTS: Of the 2 323 women who did the medical TOP and had no ongoing pregnancy, 289 (12.4%) received a surgical intervention. High rates were found in Eastern Europe (14.8%), Latin America (14.4%) and Asia/Oceania (11.0%) and low rates in Western Europe (5.8%), the Middle East (4.7%) and Africa (6.1%; p=0.000). More interventions occurred with longer gestational age (p=0.000). Women without a surgical intervention more frequently reported satisfaction with the treatment (p=0.000).

CONCLUSIONS: The large regional differences in the rates of reported surgical interventions after medical TOP provided by telemedicine cannot be explained by demographic factors or differences in gestational length. It is likely that these differences reflect different clinical practice and local guidelines on (incomplete) abortion rather than complications that genuinely needed surgical intervention. Surgical interventions significantly influenced womens' views on the acceptability of the TOP.

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