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Decision-making in abortion: men's experiences

24 July 2001


The experiences of men regarding the abortion decision were explored. Prior
research examining men's experiences with abortion is scanty, and has not
specifically addressed men's experience with decision-making regarding
abortion. To address this gap in the research, a qualitative approach was used
to explore various aspects of men's experiences regarding the abortion decision.
Fourteen male participants were interviewed at a medical clinic in Phoenix on
the day their partners had an abortion. A semi-structured interview protocol was
used. Interview data were reduced using a coding procedure, and themes were
developed. A conceptual structure for the themes was developed that outlined
relationships between the themes. Two independent readers reviewed the
accuracy of the coding and validated the identified themes. Results found two
major themes under the overarching theme of ambivalence: one, men experience ambivalent feelings about the abortion decision, and two, they use
various processes to decrease this ambivalence. Under the first major theme,
there are two subthemes: men experience emotional conflict and men experience conflict regarding power in the decision. Under the second major
theme, there are four subthemes, which correspond to four different processes
men use to decrease their ambivalence: using cognitive mechanisms, focusing
on their partner, focusing on external factors, and seeking reassurance from
others. Results expand on prior research by identifying ambivalence as a
different conceptual framework for understanding men's experiences with the abortion decision. An additional contribution of this research is the identification of several processes men use to decrease their ambivalence. The implications for clinicians are addressed. Clinicians should assist men in clarifying their ambivalence regarding their feelings and their power in the decision, appropriately assess men's use of processes to decrease their ambivalence and their function in the overall decision-making process, and maintain an awareness of the relationship between and the intra- and inter-personal processes of the abortion decision.


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