Jill Durocher

Person-Centered, High-Quality Care from a Distance: A Qualitative Study of Patient Experiences of Telabortion, a Model for Direct-To-Patient Medication Abortion by Mail in the United States

December 1st, 2022
Medication Abortion
Kerestes, C., Delafield, R., Elia, J., Shochet, T., Kaneshiro, B., Soon, R.

Perspect Sex Reprod Health; 2022 Dec; 54(4):177-187; doi: 10.1363/psrh.12210. Epub 2022 Oct 13.

Context: Direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion allows people to receive mifepristone and misoprostol for medication abortion in their home without requiring an in-person visit with a healthcare provider. This method has high efficacy and safety, but less is known about the person-centered quality of care provided with telemedicine.

Methods: We interviewed 45 participants from the TelAbortion study of direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion in the United States from January to July 2020. Semi-structured qualitative interviews queried their choices, barriers to care, expectations for care, actual abortion experience, and suggestions for improvement. We developed a codebook through an iterative, inductive process and performed content and thematic analyses.

Results: The experience of direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion met the person-centered domains of dignity, autonomy, privacy, communication, social support, supportive care, trust, and environment. Four themes relate to the person-centered framework for reproductive health equity: (1) Participants felt well-supported and safe with TelAbortion; (2) Participants had autonomy in their care which led to feelings of empowerment; (3) TelAbortion exceeded expectations; and (4) Challenges arose when interfacing with the healthcare system outside of TelAbortion. Participants perceived abortion stigma which often led them to avoid traditional care and experienced enacted stigma during encounters with non-study healthcare workers.

Conclusion: TelAbortion is a high quality, person-centered care model that can empower patients seeking care in an increasingly challenging abortion context.