Psychological distress among adolescents before, during and after unsafe induced abortion in Malawi


Rose Piaroza Chamanga, Abigail Kazembe, Alfred Maluwa, Ellen Chirwa and Jane Chimango

Unsafe induced abortion among adolescents in Malawi is common but little is known about the psychological experiences of the adolescents before, during and after undergoing the unsafe induced abortion. A descriptive study that utilized qualitative methods was conducted with 18 purposely sampled adolescents that were admitted at the gynecological ward of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi to explore their experiences. Data was collected through in-depth interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire and was manually analyzed using content analysis. Two themes that emerged from data analysis were psychological distress before and during unsafe induced abortion and psychological distress after unsafe abortion. Before and during unsafe abortion, the adolescents were worried that their pregnancies would disrupt their education, they would lose family support and get arrested. In addition, they were angry and disappointed because of lack of support from their male partners. After abortion, the adolescents felt guilty and regretted to having lost their babies and grieved for their children. Adolescents undergo traumatic experiences before, during and after undergoing unsafe abortion. Counseling and support services should address the psychological needs of adolescents and comprehensive psychological counseling should be integrated into post abortion care services in Malawi.

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