Invited paper| Volume 21, ISSUE 3, SUPPLEMENT , S8-S13, May 2011

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Associations Between Perceived Partner Support and Relationship Dynamics With Timing of Pregnancy Termination



      Little is known about partner- and relationship-level characteristics that may affect the timing of pregnancy termination. The present study sought to address this issue by examining women’s perceptions of social support and relationship-level dynamics for their association with timing of pregnancy termination.


      Data on partner characteristics and relationship dynamics were collected from 373 women receiving abortions at clinics in two large East Coast cities via a brief, self-administered survey. These surveys collected information on individual and partner characteristics as well as perceived emotional, financial, and material support and relationship dynamics.


      Forty-six percent of women (mean age, 25 years; 52% African American, 27% Latina, 9% White; 34% currently in school; 37% employed full time) in this study were terminating a pregnancy at more than 9 weeks’ gestation (mean, 9.6; median, 8; interquartile range, 6–12). On bivariate analysis, we found that women terminating early (<9 weeks) were more likely to report perceptions of supportive partner interactions and joint decision making compared with those terminating later. Perceived negative interactions with partners were associated with later termination. In multivariate analysis, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, women who reported delays in pregnancy termination were also more likely to report a greater degree of perceived negative interactions in their relationships (adjusted odds ratio, 1.95; 95% confidence interval, 1.19–3.20).


      These findings suggest that factors influencing a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy are not limited to her own professional or personal goals, but also include the social and relationship context within which the pregnancy occurs.
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      Farzana Kapadia, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Public Health in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health, New York University. She is an epidemiologist whose research examines individual and contextual influences on sexual health.


      Lawrence B. Finer, PhD, is the Director of Domestic Research at the Guttmacher Institute. He is a demographer whose work focuses on contraceptive use, unintended pregnancy and abortion.


      Emily Klukas, MPH, is a recent graduate of the Community Public Health program, New York University. She is currently a capacity building specialist at the Latino Commission on AIDS in New York City.