Dimensions of decision difficulty in women’s decision-making about abortion: A mixed methods longitudinal study

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Abstract

Relatively little is known about the ease or difficulty with which women decide to have an abortion, and most research uses single-item measurements. We used a mixed methods approach to combine data from the Dutch Abortion and Mental Health Study (DAMHS, n = 325) with data from a qualitative study about the decision process with a small subsample (n = 69) of the DAMHS study. We used the findings from the qualitative study to develop the Dimensions of Abortion Decision Difficulty [DADD] scale, and tested this scale among a larger sample of women who took part in the second wave of the cohort study (n = 264). Qualitative analyses revealed six dimensions of decision difficulty. The DADD scale was based on these six dimensions. Results from the DADD scale at follow-up reduced these to four dimensions: (1) unrealistic fears about the abortion and fantasies about the pregnancy; (2) decision conflict; (3) negative abortion attitudes; and (4) general indecisiveness. Decision conflict was the only dimension related to previous mental disorders. The findings suggest that the concept of decision difficulty seems multidimensional, rather than unidimensional. On a clinical level, it could be important to separate the more general fears, attitudes, and indecisiveness from strong decision conflict, because the latter might involve pressure of others, lack of decision ownership, and might be related to previous mental health.

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van Ditzhuijzen, J., Brauer, M., Boeije, H., & van Nijnatten, C. H. C. J. (2019). Dimensions of decision difficulty in women’s decision-making about abortion: A mixed methods longitudinal study. PLoS ONE, 14(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212611

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