Attitudes and intentions of future health care providers regarding termination of pregnancy (TOP) services in South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Voluntary or induced termination of pregnancy (TOP) is a common reproductive health phenomenon worldwide, whether legal or illegal (WHO, 2004; Schenker and Cain, 1999). Although some countries, including South Africa, have liberalized TOP laws to allow legal and safe provision of abortion, many barriers continue to impede successful rollout of services. Key among these are the following: * recruiting and retaining staff to provide such services, * incorporating TOP observation and training into medical training curricula, preventing burnout, * addressing negative attitudes and stigma of health providers, * diminishing professional discrimination and harassment, and * offering more TOP training modules, counselling workshops, and values clarification workshops over a spread of geographic areas (Adamo, 2003). Identifying future health professionals who may be interested in training and eventually providing TOP care has thus been prioritized by the South African Department of Health. Examining the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and intentions of medical students in training could make an important contribution to policy initiatives with respect to abortion provision. The current study measured these parameters among medical students in one of the eight medical training institutions in South Africa. With the liberalization of TOP legislation in South Africa, future health professionals' attitudes and intentions towards abortion services is a critical determinant to equity, access, and availability of women's reproductive care and to the successful implementation of TOP law.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 79-84).