Understanding patient experiences with obstetric care in Catholic health care facilities
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2014
Large Research Grants
Lori Freedman, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

Objectives: Our goal was to understand patients’ experiences of facility policies that limit practice based on moral or religious teachings. How aware are patients of the doctrine and its influence on care? How much information is furnished to patients about religious policies (if at all) and how do patients feel that the policies affect patient care? Methods: Recruitment of this study involved distributing flyers (paper and electronic) via multiple sources, all leading to an online Qualtrics screening survey. Once patients were screened, our research team conducted in depth phone interviews with 22 individuals. Results: From the interviews, we can discern that the inconsistencies in patient experiences of care derive in part from the fact that institutions are variable in how closely they adhere to the ERDs, especially those prohibiting contraception and tubal ligation. The analysis of the data from the study is still ongoing, but it is clear that many cases within the sample were extraordinary illustrations of the experience of having sensitive and critical services denied. Conclusions: Respondents were so diverse in their health care narratives that we will need to speak to more patients to draw broader conclusions about Catholic health care from the patient’s perspective. Nonetheless, the findings generated rich pilot data to inform our new SFP-funded Patient Awareness of Religious Restrictions in Health Care (PARRCH) survey, which will in turn yield a sample for a second phase of this qualitative study.