Trust in provider and stigma during second-trimester abortion

Chesnokova A, Nagendra D, Dixit E, McAllister A, Schachter A, Schreiber CA, Roe AH, Sonalkar S

Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare
Nov 2023

Objective: To determine whether trust in the provider and sociodemographics are associated with individual-level abortion stigma.

Methods: We performed a cross sectional and exploratory study design using secondary analysis of a randomized trial that enrolled participants undergoing second trimester abortion. We collected baseline survey data from 70 trial participants to assess stigma (Individual Level of Abortion Stigma scale, ILAS; range 0-4), trust in provider (Trust in Physician scale; range 1-5), anxiety, depression, and sociodemographics. We performed multiple linear regression, for which ILAS score was the outcome of interest. Univariate associations were used to inform the regression model.

Results: The mean abortion stigma score was at the low end of the ILAS at 1.21 (range 0.2-2.8, SD 0.66). Age, race, income, BMI, parity, gestational age at time of abortion, and reasons for ending the pregnancy were not significantly associated with the ILAS score. Higher trust in provider scores were (m 4.0, SD 0.49) and inversely related to the ILAS score, even after adjustment for confounders (β -0.02, CI -0.03 to -0.004, p = 0.013). Screening positive for anxiety or depression was associated with a higher ILAS score ((β 0.48, CI 0.10, 0.90, p = 0.015); (β = 0.27 CI -0.097, 0.643)), while cohabitation was associated with lower ILAS score (β -0.44, CI -0.82 to -0.57, p = 0.025).

Conclusions: Trust in an abortion provider, anxiety, depression, and cohabitation are associated with abortion stigma among people seeking second trimester abortion care. Interventions that improve trust in a provider may be an area of focus for addressing abortion stigma. Future research should confirm these findings in larger populations and across diverse locations and demographics and to conduct qualitative research to understand what patients perceive as trust-promoting behaviors and words during abortion encounters.

Keywords: Abortion; Abortion stigma; Second trimester; Stigma; Trust; Trust in provider.