Termination of pregnancy in Tasmania: Access and service provision from the perspective of GPs
Ogden, K and Ingram, E and Levis, JK and Roberts, G and Robertson, I, Termination of pregnancy in Tasmania: Access and service provision from the perspective of GPs, Australian Journal of Primary Health, 27, (4) pp. 297-303. ISSN 1448-7527 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Termination of pregnancy (TOP) is considered an important component of sexual and reproductive health internationally, but there are known barriers in Australia and countries worldwide. This study investigated the issues for GPs regarding aiding access to TOP and providing early medical abortion (EMA) services for Tasmanian women. Specifically, the aims of the study were to identify the knowledge and attitudes of Tasmanian GPs regarding TOP services and to determine which known barriers to providing EMA are most significant for GPs in Tasmania, Australia. A survey was developed and piloted based on previous qualitative research that identified known barriers to accessing TOP. Surveys were posted to all identified GPs in Tasmania with a reply-paid envelope. In all, 211 (27.4%) responses were returned. GPs identified difficulty accessing TOP services, particularly for rural women and those on a low income. Almost half the GPs, excluding conscientious objectors, indicated they would be interested in providing EMA services, but perceived barriers were significant. The most significant barriers related to accessing appropriate training and support. There was uncertainty around financial reward, support services, medical indemnity and access to the medical abortifacient medications mifepristone and misoprostol. In conclusion, accessing TOP remains an issue for Tasmanian women. Many Tasmanian GPs are interested in providing EMA services if barriers are addressed, but there is a lack of knowledge about the practicalities of implementing EMA. Providing practical support to GPs and increasing knowledge pertaining to EMA provision in general practice could improve access in primary care.