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Open Access Research article

Severe morbidities associated with induced abortions among misoprostol users and non-users in a tertiary public hospital in Ghana

Francis JMK Damalie13*, Edward T Dassah12, Emmanuel SK Morhe12, Emmanuel K Nakua2, Harry K Tagbor2 and Henry S Opare-Addo12

Author Affiliations

1 Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana

2 School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, P. O. Box KS 1934, Kumasi, Ghana

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BMC Women's Health 2014, 14:90  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-90

Published: 29 July 2014



Misoprostol has become a popular over the counter self-administered abortifacient in Ghana. This study aimed to compare the socio-demographic characteristics and clinical complications associated with misoprostol and non-misoprostol induced abortions among patients admitted to a tertiary public health facility in Ghana.


This was a cross sectional study conducted at the gynaecological ward of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), over a four-month period using a structured pre-tested questionnaire. Data were analysed using Chi-square, Fisher’s exact and student t-tests. Factors associated with severe morbidity were examined using Poisson regression with robust error variance to estimate crude and adjusted relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


Overall, 126 misoprostol users and 126 misoprostol non-users were recruited into the study. About 71% of the clients had self-induced abortions. Misoprostol users were more likely to be younger (p < 0.001), single (p < 0.001), nulliparous (p = 0.001), of higher educational background (p = 0.001), and unemployed (p < 0.001), than misoprostol non-users. Misoprostol users were more likely than non-users to undergo termination of pregnancy because they wanted to continue schooling (p < 0.001) or were not earning regular income to support a family (p = 0.001). Overall, 182 (72.2%) of the women (79.4% misoprostol users vs. 65.1% misoprostol non-users; p = 0.01) suffered severe morbidity. Nulliparous women (adjusted RR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.08-1.52) and those who had induced abortion after 12 weeks’ gestation (adjusted RR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.18-1.57) were at increased risks of experiencing severe morbidity. The association between mode of abortion induction and severe morbidity was not statistically significant (p = 0.06).


Self-induced abortions using misoprostol is a common practice among women in this study; nearly three quarters of them suffered severe morbidity. Nonetheless, severe morbidity among misoprostol users and non-users did not differ significantly but was directly related to the gestational age at which the induced abortions occurred. Health education on the dangers of self-induced abortions and appropriate use of medication abortion could help reduce complications associated with induced abortions in Ghana.

Misoprostol; Client characteristics; Induced abortions; Severe morbidity; Ghana