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Obstacles and opportunities

Tijdschriftbijdrage - e-publicatie

Ondertitel:a qualitative study of the experiences of abortion centre staff with abortion care during the first COVID-19 lockdown in Flanders, Belgium
The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding measures impacted the organisation of services for abortion on request in Flanders, Belgium. This study describes abortion centre staff’s perceptions of the influence of protective measures on abortion consultations and procedures, and aims to identify obstacles and opportunities that arose from this situation. Through the anonymised patient records of one Flemish abortion centre, we compared the number of requests and abortions during the first lockdown (16 March–14 June 2020) with the same period in the five preceding years. Using a phenomenological approach, we documented the procedures and conducted interviews (all inductively coded in Nvivo) with the centre’s coordinator, seven psychosocial staff members and three doctors. Though fewer people requested and had an abortion, the pressure on the staff was high due to changed procedures. A substantial change was the substitution of telephone for in-person consultations, which the staff perceived as less suited for discussing worries, contraception counselling, and building trust. The centre remained accessible, but the staff perceived an influence on the emotional reactions of clients. Staff agreed that the lockdown did not negatively influence the abortion procedure itself. However, they felt a negative influence on the level of psychological support they could offer, especially in interactions with clients who were less certain of their choice and clients with whom there was no common language. When the lockdown was relaxed, a triage system was set up to ensure emotionally safe abortion care – as perceived by staff – for all clients.
Tijdschrift: Sexual and reproductive health matters
ISSN: 2641-0397
Volume: 29
Aantal pagina's: 16
Jaar van publicatie:2021
Trefwoorden:A1 Journal article