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Jill Durocher

Evaluation of a “Smart” Screening Tool for Asynchronous Assessment of Medication Abortion Eligibility: A Pilot Study

Published
November 20th, 2023
Type
Publication
Topic
Medication Abortion
Authors
Raymond EG, Frye LJ, Tocce K, Gingras S, Almquist A, Firstenberg A, Ortega C, Blumenthal PD, Winikoff B, Boraas C


Contraception; November 20, 2023:110340. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2023.110340. Online ahead of print.

Objectives: This study aimed to assess the feasibility, safety, and acceptability of asynchronous screening for medication abortion eligibility using a programmed questionnaire.

Study design: For this study, we developed an informational website about medication abortion with a linked questionnaire programmed to produce a conclusion regarding eligibility according to standard criteria. We enrolled people in Colorado and Minnesota who submitted questionnaires indicating eligibility. A study physician reviewed each questionnaire and medical records if available and determined whether the responses warranted treatment without a synchronous clinical consultation or ultrasound. If so, the physician prescribed a standard regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol. We collected posttreatment data on abortion outcome, adverse events, and satisfaction.

Results: We received questionnaires from 197 individuals, of whom 160 remained in the study until the physician made a final treatment decision. Physicians prescribed medication abortion to 156 (97.5%) individuals based on the questionnaire responses, whereas four needed further assessment to confirm eligibility. Of the 156 individuals, 130 had sufficient follow-up to assess abortion outcome, and 123 (95%) had complete medication abortions without additional treatment. One participant was hospitalized for bleeding, and one expelled a 15-week fetus; however, it is not clear that conventional synchronous history-based screening would have averted these events. Of the 197 questionnaires, 42% were submitted outside business hours. On satisfaction questionnaires, 134 (96%) of 144 participants said they would recommend the study to a friend who needed an abortion.

Conclusions: Data from this pilot project suggest that providing medication abortion based only on a self-administered, programmed questionnaire is likely to be effective, safe, efficient, and acceptable.

Implications: A programmed self-administered patient questionnaire to assess eligibility for medication abortion could reduce the cost of the service, augment clinic efficiency, improve quality of care, and enhance access to abortion.

Keywords: Asynchronous, Feasibility, Medication abortion, Safety, Telemedicine