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Inadequate preabortion counseling and decision conflict as predictors of subsequent relationship difficulties and psychological stress in men and women

The purpose of this study was to examine associations between perceptions of pre-abortion counseling adequacy and partner congruence in abortion decisions and two sets of outcome variables involving relationship problems and individual psychological stress. Data were collected through online surveys from 374 women who had a prior abortion and 198 men whose partners had experienced elective abortion. For women, perceptions of pre-abortion counseling inadequacy predicted relationship problems, symptoms of intrusion, avoidance, and hyperarousal, and meeting full diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with controls for demographic and personal/situational variables used. For men, perceptions of inadequate counseling predicted relationship problems and symptoms of intrusion and avoidance with the same controls used. Incongruence in the decision to abort predicted intrusion and meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD among women with controls used, whereas for men, decision incongruence predicted intrusion, hyperarousal, meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and relationship problems. Findings suggest that both perceptions of inadequate preabortion counseling and incongruence in the abortion decision with one’s partner are related to adverse personal and interpersonal outcomes.

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