Attitudes on Abortion: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Medical Students in Their Preclinical Years [3F]

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

This study is a single-institution survey of pre-clinical medical students examining their attitudes regarding abortion. Our aim was to evaluate factors affecting attitudes and to assess changes in these attitudes over time.

METHODS:

The survey was administered to first and second year medical students in 1992, 1998, 2000, and 2014. Statistical analyses were conducted to delineate associations between medical student characteristics and their attitudes toward abortion. Statistically significant characteristics were then entered into a multivariable logistic regression model. In addition, trends in attitude were assessed across survey waves.

RESULTS:

885 students completed the survey. Among these respondents, 44% were female, 28% identified as atheist or agnostic, 39% identified as generally democratic and 13% as strongly democratic. 4% intended to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology and 20% planned to enter a primary care specialty. 586 respondents identified as strongly pro-choice, 183 as neutral and 95 were strongly anti-abortion. Compared to participants planning to practice other specialties, participants planning to practice primary care were 1.91 times as likely to be decidedly against abortion rather than neutral or moderate (95% CI 1.08–3.41). No significant trends across time were observed.

CONCLUSION:

Among medical students at this institution, attitudes toward abortion have not significantly changed over the past 22 years. Students planning to enter primary care specialties are less likely to identify as pro-choice and are less supportive of abortion training. Further research is needed to elucidate ways to foster more positive attitudes toward abortion in this group.

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