Unsafe abortion: Knowledge and perceptions among In-School female adolescents in Kapiri Mposhi

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Lombe, Kaluba
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This study aimed to investigate unsafe abortion, which is more prevalent in most third world countries and contributes significantly to maternal morbidity and mortality. Majority of patients treated for induced abortion are adolescents, yet their knowledge and perceptions on unsafe abortion are understudied. A cross sectional descriptive and explorative study with a mixed method approach was carried out among school girls aged 15 to 19 years in Kapiri Mposhi , Central province of Zambia. The study aimed to assess schoolgirls’ knowledge on unsafe abortion and also their perceptions on induced abortion. A sample of 340 schoolgirls was subjected to a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire that captured data on knowledge on unsafe abortion and perceptions on induced abortion. For triangulation purposes, 16 schoolgirls were purposively selected to participate in two sessions of focus group discussions. Pearsons’ chi-square test was used to determine association between independent and dependent variables. Nvivo version 10 was used to assist the researcher in sorting and organising the qualitative data. Mean age of respondents was 16.6 years and at the time of the study 35% of the respondents had experienced their sexual debut. Out of these, 36.1% had ever been pregnant. Less than half (41.9%) of the adolescents that had been pregnant before reported having aborted. All the abortions were induced using methods that were ineffective and unsafe. The majority of respondents (92%) had negative perceptions towards abortion and 50.6% of the respondents had good knowledge on unsafe abortion. Factors associated with perceptions on abortion were age (P value>0.00) and ever had sex (p- value 0.02). Knowledge on unsafe abortion was associated with age (p-value 0.00), ever had sex (p- value 0.04) and ever used family planning (p-value 0.02). Qualitative findings showed that majority of the participants did not support abortion based on moral grounds. In order to increase adolescent girls’ knowledge on unsafe abortion and its related consequences, there is need for comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health education focusing on dangers of early pregnancy, unsafe abortion. Youth friendly medical services attending to their reproductive health needs should be made available, affordable and accessible.
Abortion-Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia