July 2011

Effectiveness and acceptability of medical abortion provided through telemedicine

Grossman D, Grindlay K, Buchacker T, Lane K, Blanchard K. Effectiveness and acceptability of medical abortion provided through telemedicine. Obstetrics and Gynecology. July 2011; 118(2):296-303.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the effectiveness and acceptability of telemedicine provision of early medical abortion compared with provision with a face-to-face physician visit at a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa.

METHODS: Between November 2008 and October 2009, we conducted a prospective cohort study of women obtaining medical abortion by telemedicine or face-to-face physician visits. We collected clinical data, and women completed a self-administered questionnaire at follow-up. We also compared the prevalence of reportable adverse events between the two service delivery models among all patients seen between July 2008 and October 2009.

RESULTS: Of 578 enrolled participants, follow-up data were obtained for 223 telemedicine patients and 226 face-to-face patients. The proportion with a successful abortion was 99% for telemedicine patients (95% confidence interval [CI] 96-100%) and 97% for face-to-face patients (95% CI 94-99%). Ninety-one percent of all participants were very satisfied with their abortion, although in multivariable analysis, telemedicine patients had a higher odds of saying they would recommend the service to a friend compared with face-to-face patients (odds ratio, 1.72; 95% CI 1.26-2.34). Twenty-five percent of telemedicine patients said they would have preferred being in the same room with the doctor. Younger age, less education, and nulliparity were significantly associated with preferring face-to-face communication. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of adverse events reported during the study period among telemedicine patients (n = 1,172) (1.3%; 95% CI 0.8-2.1%) compared with face-to-face patients (n = 2,384) (1.3%; 95% CI 0.9-1.8%) (82% power to detect difference of 1.3%).

CONCLUSION: Provision of medical abortion through telemedicine is effective and acceptability is high among women who choose this model.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II.

Tagged with Abortion, United States