Original Research

Lived experiences of women with spontaneous abortion at a district hospital, South Africa

Marshall Lockett, Robert J. Mash
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 2| a5917 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5917 | © 2024 Marshall Lockett, Robert J. Mash | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2024 | Published: 30 April 2024

About the author(s)

Marshall Lockett, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Robert J. Mash, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: Spontaneous abortions occur in 12.5% of pregnancies and have a significant impact on the well-being of women. Dissatisfaction with health services is well-documented, but no studies have been conducted in district health services of the Western Cape. The aim was to explore the lived experiences of women presenting with spontaneous abortions to the emergency department at Helderberg Hospital.

Methods: A descriptive phenomenological qualitative study used criterion-based purposive sampling to identify suitable participants. Data were collected through semi-structured individual interviews. Atlas-ti (version 22) software assisted with data analysis using the framework method.

Results: A total of nine participants were interviewed. There were four main themes: a supportive environment, staff attitudes and behaviour, the impact of time, and sharing of information. The comfort, cleanliness and privacy of the environment were important. COVID-19 had also impacted on this. Showing interest, demonstrating empathy and being nonjudgemental were important, as well as the waiting time for definitive treatment and the time needed to assimilate and accept the diagnosis. In addition, the ability to give relevant information, explain the diagnosis and help patients share in decision-making were key issues.

Conclusion: This study highlighted the need for a more person-centred approach and managers should focus on changes to organisational culture through training and clinical governance activities. Attention should be paid to the physical environment, availability of patient information materials and sequential coordination of care with primary care services.

Contribution: This study identifies issues that can improve person-centredness and women’s satisfaction with care for spontaneous abortion.


abortion; miscarriage; pregnancy; patient satisfaction; quality of care; person-centredness

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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