Guttmacher Institute Abortion Patient Survey (APS)

Guttmacher Institute
Years Available
1987, 1994-1995, 2000-2001, 2008, 2014
Periodic; typically every 5 to 7 years
Mode of Collection
Sample survey: self-administered paper questionnaire.
The Guttmacher Institute Abortion Patient Survey (APS) provides information on the characteristics of women receiving abortions at a nationally representative sample of health facilities in the United States.
Selected Content
Sociodemographic characteristics of the patient including age, marital or relationship status, sexual orientation (2014 only), race and ethnicity, education, income, and religious affiliation. Other data items include prior births, health insurance coverage and method of payment for abortion services and prior attempts to self-induce an abortion.
Population Covered
Women obtaining abortions in the United States
Data are collected through self-administered questionnaires. In addition to sociodemographic items, information on insurance coverage and method of payment for the procedure is included. For the most recent survey, a sample of 113 non-hospital facilities providing 30 or more abortions per year was randomly selected from the Guttmacher Institute's list of all known abortion providers. A total of 87 facilities agreed to participate. Each facility distributed survey questionnaires (in English and Spanish) to every abortion patient who obtained care during the designated survey period (2 to 12 weeks). Of the 11,024 abortions provided at participating facilities during the survey period, usable data was obtained from 8,380 respondents for a response rate of 76 percent. Data were weighted to account for patient nonresponse. Missing information for key demographic variables were imputed using the answers of respondents with similar characteristics.
Response Rates and Sample Size
In 2014, participating facilities provided a total of 11,024 abortions; data were collected from 8,380 respondents, for a response rate of 76%. This response rate was similar to response rates in previous surveys. The 87 facilities eligible for participation included clinics and physicians' offices that provided at least 30 abortions in 2011. Hospitals were excluded from the survey because of past recruitment and logistical challenges. In 2011, hospitals accounted for 4% of all abortions.
Interpretation Issues
(1) Women obtaining abortions in hospitals are excluded; therefore, the data are not representative of all abortion patients. Hospitals accounted for only 4 percent of abortions in 2011, and the demographic profile of the 2008 sample excluding hospital abortion patients is very similar to the one including them. Thus, it is unlikely that the exclusion of hospital patients biased the 2014 sample. (2) Studies have documented that self-reported health insurance status is prone to reporting error. However, patterns in coverage corresponded with state patterns in Medicaid coverage of abortion. Thus, while subject to more reporting error than characteristics such as age and race, the patterns of insurance coverage and payment for abortion services observed in this survey are most likely real.
Jerman J, Jones RK, and Onda T. Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2016.