Helping with the Psychological Stress Post-Abortion

Mar 08, 2017

“As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins.”

Albert Schweitzer

Helping with the Psychological Stress Post-Abortion

TISA Description of the Problem: Here is a really wonderful tip given to me by a primary care physician at a recent conference, Scott Stringfield, MD. Scott addresses the difficulty some women may have in sharing their pain regarding a recent abortion and in some clinicians asking about it.

Tip: If during an initial History and Physical, or during subsequent care, a clinician uncovers that a patient has had an abortion, it can be easy for a clinician to sort of “skip over” the topic and move on. In reality, I think it is important to help the patient feel free to discuss the topic, for it may have a PTSD-like component, and often there have been very few opportunities for the patient to share their feelings.

I ask, “How are you doing with that?” If the patient says “Fine” I add,”If you ever need to talk about it, I’m here to listen.” If instead the patient says something like, “I’m not doing too well”, then I can sensitively open the topic for more sharing by saying, “Tell me a little more about how you have been dealing with it.” I find that the above approach often leads to important sharing and healing.

TISA Follow-up: I have little to add except this tip shows once again the power of a single question to relieve pain, as well as the power of teaching specific, concrete clinical interviewing tips to our trainees. This one is a gem.

Tip provided by:

Scott Stringfield, M.D.
Via Christi Family Medicine
Scott_Stringfield@via-Christi.org