Abortion referral patterns among generalist OB/GYNs and primary care practitioners: A qualitative study

Allison Linton, Samuel R. Mendez, Melissa A. Simon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: An informed, timely referral from a generalist practitioner has the potential to facilitate care for a patient seeking an abortion. However it is unclear what barriers, if any, generalist practitioners perceive in this process. The objective of this study was to qualitatively characterize abortion referral patterns among generalist practitioners. Study design: We conducted individual interviews with generalist practitioners practicing at Northwestern Medicine, encompassing four hospitals across the greater Chicago metropolitan area. The interview guide focused on abortion-related topics including: referral patterns, attitudes about providing referrals, and specifics of the abortion referral process. We analyzed the data for content and themes using an inductive approach. Results: We completed 37 interviews. Practitioners in all fields and practice sites were willing to provide abortion referrals. Practitioners perceived barriers in the referral process, with a lack of knowledge chief among them. Further, practitioners saw abortion referrals as more burdensome than other specialty referrals. Conclusion: Generalist practitioners are willing to provide abortion referrals, but perceive multiple barriers in the abortion referral process. Generalist practitioners can help to ensure their patients receive timely and quality abortion care if they feel prepared and empowered to assist with these referrals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-136
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Abortion
  • Patient referral
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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