Study gauges physician perspectives on abortion advocacy

Physician advocates in all areas of health are important but are particularly critical for sexual and reproductive health-related legislative decisions that affect their ability to provide essential care, including abortion.

In a study published recently in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, Assistant Professor Meredith Manze and colleagues sought to investigate the skills physicians felt were needed to conduct such advocacy effectively.

The study was conducted as part of a mixed-methods evaluation of a sexual and reproductive health physician advocacy training program, under the leadership of Associate Professors Diana Romero and Heidi Jones, who is also an investigator at the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH). As part of the evaluation, physician alumni of the program were asked their perspectives on what it means, and skills needed, to be an effective abortion advocate.

Using data from surveys and in-depth interviews, Dr. Manze and team found that strategic communication and relationship-building skills were considered essential for effective advocacy. In addition to “out loud” advocacy such as conducting media interviews, “quiet” advocacy, such as implementing institutional policies and abortion provision itself, were considered to be forms of advocacy.

The researchers discussed how individual comfort and capacity for advocacy activities may change over time, given personal and professional considerations.

“Given the increased restrictions on abortion in the U.S., physician advocacy for sexual and reproductive health is imperative,” says Manze. “Training programs that seek to mobilize physician advocates to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights should work with trainees to create a tailored advocacy plan that fits their personal and professional lives and goals. Regardless of the types of advocacy activities physicians focus on, strategic communication may be central in skills-based training.”

Physician perspectives of abortion advocacy: findings from a mixed-methods study,” Meredith Manze, Diana Romero, Amy Kwan, Taylor Rose Ellsworth, Heidi Jones, BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health. Online First: April 8, 2022. doi: 10.1136/bmjsrh-2021-201394

About the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health at the City University of New York
The CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) was founded on the notion that substantial improvements in population health can be efficiently achieved through better implementation of existing strategies, policies, and interventions across multiple sectors. We study how to translate and scale-up evidence-based interventions and policies within clinical and community settings in order to improve population health and reduce health disparities. CUNY ISPH. Pursuing population health gains through better implementation. Follow us on Twitter: @CUNYISPH.

About the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy
The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is committed to promoting and sustaining healthier populations in New York City and around the world through excellence in education, research, and service in public health and by advocating for sound policy and practice to advance social justice and improve health outcomes for all. For more information, visit