Assessment of the lifetime prevalence and incidence of induced abortion and correlates among female sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya: a secondary cohort analysis.

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Introduction Prevalence of lifetime-induced abortion in female sex workers (FSWs) in Kenya was previously estimated between 43% and 86%. Our analysis aimed at assessing lifetime prevalence and correlates, and incidence and predictors of induced abortions among FSWs in Kenya.

Methods This is a secondary prospective cohort analysis using data collected as part of the WHISPER or SHOUT cluster-randomised trial in Mombasa, assessing effectiveness of an SMS-intervention to reduce incidence of unintended pregnancy. Eligible participants were current FSWs, 16–34 years and not pregnant or planning pregnancy. Baseline data on self-reported lifetime abortion, correlates and predictors were collected between September 2016 and May 2017. Abortion incidence was measured at 6-month and 12-month follow-up. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to assess correlates of lifetime abortion and discrete-time survival analysis was used to assess predictors of abortions during follow-up.

Results Among 866 eligible participants, lifetime abortion prevalence was 11.9%, while lifetime unintended pregnancy prevalence was 51.2%. Correlates of lifetime abortions were currently not using a highly effective contraceptive (adjusted OR (AOR)=1.76 (95% CI=1.11 to 2.79), p=0.017) and having ever-experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) (AOR=2.61 (95% CI=1.35 to 5.06), p=0.005). Incidence of unintended pregnancy and induced abortion were 15.5 and 3.9 per 100 women-years, respectively. No statistically significant associations were found between hazard of abortion and age, sex work duration, partner status, contraceptive use and IPV experience.

Conclusion Although experience of unintended pregnancy remains high, lifetime prevalence of abortion may have decreased among FSW in Kenya. Addressing IPV could further decrease induced abortions in this population.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ open