Study Finds Over Half of Physicians Who Are Willing to Refer for Abortion Care Don’t Know How to Do So

A new study by CORE researchers shows that physicians want to refer patients for abortion services, but many lack the knowledge on how to do so. Published in in Social Science and Medicine – Population Health, the paper shares findings from a survey of over 800 physicians across specialties at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the state’s largest and only public medical school.

Elizabeth Anderson, Sarah K. Cowan, Jenny A. Higgins of CORE, Nicholas B. Schmuhl, and Cynthie K. Wautlet teamed up to learn more about how referral knowledge may serve as a barrier to abortion access.

Their survey results indicate that the overwhelming majority (over 80%) of physicians were willing to consult on abortion-related patient cases. However, only half (53%) of physicians who were willing to refer a patient for abortion care knew how to do so. Physicians who had not received abortion-related information in medical school, as well as more junior physicians, were especially lacking in abortion referral knowledge.

These findings illustrate another obstacle for those seeking abortion: healthcare providers who are “willing but unable” to direct patients to abortion services if needed.

Clear and robust referral systems could aid physicians in helping their patients get the reproductive healthcare they need.

Read the open-access article here, titled “Willing but unable: Physicians’ referral knowledge as barriers to abortion care.”