BMJ open 2016 Oct 136(10) e012761 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012761
Abortion is a sensitive issue; many cultures disapprove of it, which leads to under-reporting. This study sought to estimate the rate of abortion visibility in the city of Kerman, Iran-that is, the percentage of acquaintances who knew about a particular abortion. For estimating the visibility rate, it is crucial to use the network scale-up method, which is a new, indirect method of estimating sensitive behaviours more accurately.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This cross-sectional study was conducted in Kerman, Iran using various methods to ensure the cooperation of clinicians and women. A total of 222 women who had had an abortion within the previous year (74 elective, 74 medical and 74 spontaneous abortions) were recruited. Participants were asked how many of their acquaintances were aware of their abortion. Abortion visibility was estimated by abortion type. 95% CIs were calculated by a bootstrap procedure. A zero-inflated negative binomial regression analysis was conducted to assess the variables related to visibility.
The visibility (95% CI) of elective, medical and spontaneous abortion was 8% (6% to 10%), 60% (54% to 66%) and 50% (43% to 57%), respectively. Women and consanguineal family were more likely to be aware of the abortion than men and affinal family. Non-family members had a low probability of knowing about the abortion, except in elective cases. Abortion type, marital status, sex of the acquaintance and closeness of the relationship were the most important determinants of abortion visibility in the final multifactorial model.
This study shows the visibility rate to be low, but it does differ among social network members and by the type of abortion in question. This difference might be explained through social and cultural norms as well as stigma surrounding abortion. The low visibility rate might explain the low estimates of abortion rates found in other studies.