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Pain and distress during abortion

, : Pain and distress during abortion. Health Care for Women International 12(3): 293-302

A researcher conducted a study on 35 18-40 year old women who had a 1st trimester abortion at a private reproductive health clinic in the United States to describe their pain and distress. The McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and the visual analog scale (VAS) showed that all of the women experienced at least some pain. Ample variance occurred with the MPQ sensory scale, but not from the affective, evaluative, and miscellaneous scales. The major descriptors were cramping (70%), tiring (45.7%), and cutting (40%). 34.3% of the women chose the following: tugging, pulling, aching, and intense. Subjective distress measured by VAS was associated with all 3 pain measures (MPQ total, present pain intensity (PPI) and Pain VAS; p.01). Observer rated distress was associated with PPI and Pain VAS (p.01), but not MPQ total. Behavioral distress measured by the distress check list (DCL) was correlated with Pain VAS (p.05). State anxiety was higher than the norms which indicated that abortion caused increased anxiety. Women who had at least 1 child reported less pain on the affective MPQ scale than those who had none (p.1). Further, women who had a previous abortion had more pain on the affective MPQ and PPI scales than did those who did not have a previous abortion (p.05). Perhaps previous abortion sensitized these women. No differences occurred between women who received a local cervical block and those that received an intravenous (IV) sedation plus local cervical block when measured by MPQ, even though diazepam used in the IV has antianxiety effects. Observation measures of distress (VASs) indicated a significant increase of pain in those only receiving a local cervical block, however.


PMID: 1885340

DOI: 10.1080/07399339109515952

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