Jill Durocher

The Acceptability and Feasibility of Remote Technologies for Follow-up after Early Medical Abortion

July 1st, 2014
Bracken, H., Lohr, P.A., Taylor, J., Morroni, C., Winikoff, B.

Contraception; 2014 Jul; 90(1):29-35; doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2014.03.016

Objectives: We tested the effectiveness and feasibility of remote communication technologies to increase follow-up after early medical abortion.

Study design: Women (n=999) were randomized to 'remote' follow-up incorporating a low-sensitivity pregnancy test and standardized symptom questionnaire administered online, by text message or telephone by a non-clinical call center operator 2 weeks after treatment, or to 'clinic-based' follow-up with ultrasound at 1 week. Women in the clinic-based group who could not return performed a high-sensitivity pregnancy test at 3 weeks and had a telephone call with clinic staff. The primary outcome was completion of follow-up. Rates of complications, acceptability and preferences were compared.

Results: The overall follow-up rate did not differ by group {clinic-based, 73% vs. remote, 69%; risk ratio (RR) 1.0 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.9-1.2]}. In the clinic-based group, 83% did not return for an ultrasound scan and were followed up by phone. In the remote group, follow-up by phone or text was more successful than online (text: 75.4%; phone: 73.7%; online: 46.5%, p<.001). The proportion of women receiving additional care was 9% in the clinic-based group and was 4% in the remote group [RR 1.8 (95% CI 1.1-3.1)]. Most women found their follow-up method acceptable but would prefer follow-up by phone or text message if needed in future.

Conclusions: Follow-up after medical abortion using remote communication is feasible and, for most women, preferable to a clinic visit.