Male Partners’ Involvement in Abortion Care: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review

Anna L. Altshuler, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute Brian T. Nguyen, University of Southern California Halley E.M. Riley, Emory University Marilyn L. Tinsley, Stanford University Özge Tuncalp, World Health Organization

First published online:

| DOI: https://doi.org/10.1363/psrh.12000
Abstract / Summary

Although some women may desire the involvement of their partners when obtaining abortion care, male partners are not routinely included in the abortion process. A review of the literature on how male involvement relates to women's abortion experiences may help guide facilities that are considering incorporating male partners in abortion care.


PubMed, PsycINFO (Ovid), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, the Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature database, and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched without restrictions through September 23, 2015, to identify qualitative and quantitative primary studies investigating male partner accompaniment during the abortion process in noncoercive situations. Analysis focused on identifying different types of male involvement and their associations with women's abortion experiences.


Some 1,316 unique articles were reviewed; 15 were analyzed. These studies were conducted in six countries and published between 1985 and 2012, primarily with observational designs. Four types of male partner involvement emerged: presence in the medical facility, participation in preabortion counseling, presence in the room during the surgical abortion procedure or while the woman is experiencing the effects of abortifacient medications, and participation in postabortion care. Studies explored relationships between type of involvement and women's access to abortion care and their emotional and physical well-being. Most findings suggested that male involvement was positively associated with women's well-being and their assessment of the experience; no negative associations were found.


In noncoercive circumstances, women who include their male partners in the abortion process may find this involvement beneficial.

Author's Affiliations

Anna L. Altshuler is obstetrician-gynecologist, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco. Brian T. Nguyen is fellow in family planning, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago. Halley E.M. Riley is doctoral student, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta. Marilyn L. Tinsley is research services librarian, Lane Medical Library, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California. Özge Tuncalp is scientist, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva.


The authors thank Meghan Bohren for guidance with mixed methods methodology. The content of this article is the responsibility solely of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the institutions with which the authors are affiliated.


The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.