November 2021

General practitioner knowledge of and engagement with telehealth-at-home medical abortion provision

Mazza D, Seymour J, Sandhu M, Melville C, O Brien J, Thompson T-AAustralian Journal of Primary Health. November 2021.

In Australia, there are many barriers to abortion, particularly for women living in regional, rural and remote areas. Telehealth provision of medical abortion is safe, effective and acceptable to patients and providers. In 2015, Marie Stopes Australia (MSA) launched an at-home telehealth model for medical abortion to which GPs could refer. Between April and November of 2017, we interviewed 20 GPs who referred patients to MSA’s telehealth-at-home abortion service to better understand their experiences and perspectives regarding telehealth-at-home abortion. We found that there was widespread support and recognition of the benefits of telehealth-at-home abortion in increasing access to abortion and reducing travel and costs. However, the GPs interviewed lacked knowledge and understanding of the processes involved in medical abortion, and many were unaware of the availability of telehealth as an option until a patient requested a referral. The GPs interviewed called for increased communication between telehealth-at-home abortion providers and GPs. Increasing GP familiarity with medical abortion and awareness of the availability of telehealth-at-home abortion may assist people in accessing safe, effective medical abortion.