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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and psychological distress following medical and surgical abortion

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Objective: Abortion can be a difficult event to cope with and can lead to the development of psychological disturbance. The aim of this prospective and longitudinal study was to assess and to predict Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms following abortion. Moreover, this study aimed to assess whether the type of abortion had an impact on women’s experience. Method: Eighty-six women were approached a few hours after the abortion and then 6 weeks later. Several questionnaires were completed: the Impact of Event Scale Revised (IES-R), the Multidimensional Scale of Social Support (MSPSS), the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experience Questionnaire (PDEQ), the Peritraumatic Emotions List (PEL), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Perinatal Grief Scale (PGS) and the Texas Grief Inventory (TGI). Results: Six weeks after the abortion, 38% of women reported a potential PTSD and a significant decrease of the anxious symptomatology was also highlighted. Peritraumatic dissociation and peritraumatic emotions were the main predictors of the intensity of post-abortum PTSD symptoms. Compared to surgical abortion, medical abortion was associated with increasing the risk of developing a possible PTSD. Conclusion: By providing evidence on some of the main risk factors, this study highlights the need for psychological support for women and strategies of prevention to be developed.
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Keywords: abortion method; anxiety; depression; dissociation; emotion; posttraumatic stress disorder

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre d’Études et de Recherches en Psychopathologie, Université de Toulouse II, France

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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