Understanding and addressing the needs of abortion patients who use opioids: A mixed-methods study
Awarded 2017
Large Research Grants
Kari Braaten, MD, MPH
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts

Background and significance: The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis affecting the lives of a large number of reproductive age women in the US. Women who use opioids have high rates of unintended pregnancy, low contraceptive use, and they experience social stigma that puts them at risk for low-quality and disrespectful health care. Despite their high risk for unintended pregnancy and resultant higher need for abortion care, no previous studies have explored the abortion experiences of women who use opioids. Objectives: To study the abortion needs, experiences and preferences of women who use opioids, specifically by quantitatively identifying gaps in pain management, non-coercive contraceptive counseling, and contraceptive method choice, and qualitatively exploring abortion decision making, post-abortion contraceptive needs and preferences, and general barriers to care. Study design and measurements: This will be a mixed-methods study, conducted at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. It will include a quantitative anonymous survey of 1200 surgical abortion patients, comparing experiences of pain and quality of abortion and contraception care between opioid-dependent and non-opioid dependent women. The second portion will be qualitative interviews with opioid-using women that will explore barriers to and facilitators of receipt of highly quality abortion and post-abortion contraceptive care. Study implications: This study will generate findings that can be used as a starting point for a comprehensive research agenda, crafting of clinical guidelines, recommendations for practice improvement, and design of an innovative intervention to improve the quality of abortion care for opioid-using and dependent women.