Original Research

Abortion care training framework for nurses within the context of higher education in the Western Cape

I. Smit, E. M. Bitzer, E. L. D. Boshoff, D. W. Steyn
Curationis | Vol 32, No 3 | a1222 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v32i3.1222 | © 2009 I. Smit, E. M. Bitzer, E. L. D. Boshoff, D. W. Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 September 2009 | Published: 06 September 2009

About the author(s)

I. Smit, Division of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
E. M. Bitzer, Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
E. L. D. Boshoff, Division of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
D. W. Steyn, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Abstract

The high morbidity and mortality rate due to illegal abortions in South Africa necessitated the implementation of abortion legislation in February 1997. Abortion legislation stipulates that registered nurses who had undergone the proposed abortion care training — certified nurses — may carry out abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Currently it seems that an inadequate number of nurses are being trained in the Western Cape to provide pregnant women with counselling, to perform abortions and/or refer problem cases. No real attempts have since been made by higher education institutions in the Western Cape to offer abortion care training for nurses. This case study explores the situation of certified nurses and the context in which they provide abortion care in different regions of the Western Cape. The sampling included a random, stratified (non-proportional) number of designated state health care facilities in the Western Cape, a non-probability purposive sampling of nurses who provided abortion care, a non-probability convenience sample of women who had received abortion care, and a non-probability purposive sampling of final-year pre-registration nursing students. Data was generated by means of questionnaires, a checklist and semi-structured interviews. The main findings of this study indicate that the necessary infrastructure required for legal abortion is in place. However, the ongoing shortage of trained health care practitioners hampers abortion care services. Deficiencies were identified in the existing provincial protocol as some of the guidelines were either not in use or had become obsolete. Certified midwives who had been trained by the regional offices of the Department of Health: Western Cape were skilled in carrying out the abortion procedure, but other aspects of abortion care mainly carried out by other categories of nurses required more attention. This article suggests a training framework that should provide focus for the development of a formal programme or programmes for the training of nurses in abortion care at higher education institutions in the Western Cape.

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