Relying on surveys to understand abortion behavior: Some cautionary evidence

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Objectives. The reliability of abortion self-reports has raised questions about the general usefulness of surveys in research about abortion behavior; however, the extent of underreporting remains a subject of some debate. This study sought to examine abortion reporting in a sample of welfare mothers and to determine factors in underreporting. Methods. In New Jersey, which covers abortions requested by welfare recipients under its Medicaid program, the responses of a randomly drawn sample of 1236 welfare mothers about abortion events were compared with the Medicaid claims records of these women. Results. Only 29% of actual abortions were self-reported by the women in the sample. This finding varied dramatically by race, with substantially higher rates of underreporting by Blacks than by Whites or Hispanics. Conclusions. Although race is the most consistent predictor of underreporting behavior, attitudinal factors and survey technology also help in explaining abortion reporting behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1825-1831
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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