Access to safe and inclusive abortion care is a right. However, barriers to access remain, particularly for equity deserving communities and those living in rural or remote areas. Additionally, misinformation and stigmatizing content often perpetuates inequities and produces greater uncertainty.
In response, the Government of Canada recently announced additional funding, through its Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund, to the Contraception and Abortion Research Team (CART), based at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Dr. Sheila Dunn, a Women’s College Hospital (WCH) family physician and scientist is a prominent CART investigator.
This new funding will enable CART and its partner organizations, including WCH, to develop training resources and culturally safe materials for both healthcare providers and patients. “This new funding covers both research projects, as well as knowledge translation initiatives,” Dr. Dunn explained.
One aspect of this new funding will go towards building on and expanding CART’s existing virtual community of practice platform for healthcare providers seeking information, tools, and resources to support the delivery of abortion care. “Currently the platform has 2,000 members. The updated platform will include a wider range of materials for a broader range of care providers, including nurses, social workers, and doulas among others.”
Building on this, a decision aid for people seeking an abortion will also be created and distributed. The aid will include video and other resources in a variety of languages and formats. It will outline the differences between medical and surgical abortions, as well as ways to access care. This will allow patients to make informed choices that are best for them and their individual needs.
“Another key component of our upcoming work will be the creation of a national network of mentorship hubs, providing real-time support to healthcare providers across the country who are delivering medical abortion care,” said Dunn. “Healthcare providers need the ability to consult with their colleagues when they have clinical questions or concerns. WCH’s Bay Centre for Birth Control is one of the four national mentorship hubs. As a leader in abortion care, notably medical abortion, the team at the Bay Centre has both the know-how, as well as the experience providing care that is culturally appropriate and de-stigmatizing. This mentorship network aims to enhance access to medical abortion across the country by supporting and building the expertise of new medical abortion providers.”
As the various project components are implemented and insights are generated, CART and its 56 investigators and partner organizations will host a knowledge mobilization meeting next year. Providing an opportunity for researchers, clinicians, and others involved in abortion care to share the resources developed and knowledge gained during the project and develop strategies to further incorporate and disseminate these findings and tools.
“It’s not enough to simply conduct research or develop resources for abortion care. It is essential that we share our knowledge and resources with both providers and the community members who need this healthcare service,” Dunn shared. “Through this work we are advancing equity and access to a critical area of healthcare.”