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Women who have undergone abortion in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: application of a Bayesian hierarchical model.

Abstract

Estimates of number of women who have undergone induced abortion in jurisdictions with restrictive abortion laws are still scarce in the scientific literature, and the disparate estimates from currently used methods call for the application of innovative estimation techniques such as new indirect methods. This need is especially acute in more densely populated areas, such as Brazil's state capitals, given the magnitude of unsafe abortions and the resulting risks and harms. The article aims to estimate the number of women who had induced abortions in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2011, based on a Bayesian hierarchical model. The model was applied to data from a household survey that supported the use of the network scale-up method in the city of Rio de Janeiro, a Bayesian hierarchical model using indirect information based on the contact networks of randomly selected participants from the general population. Among the 1,758,145 women 15-49 years of age living in the city of Rio de Janeiro, 13,025 women (95%CrI: 10,635; 15,748) had induced abortions in 2011, resulting in a mean cumulative incidence of 7.41 (95%CrI: 6.05; 8.96) for every 1,000 women 15-49 years of age. The model's self-validation process identified patterns of underestimation in stigmatized subpopulations with low social visibility, such as women who have undergone induced abortion. Induced abortion is a common practice among women in the city of Rio de Janeiro. New indirect estimation methods can contribute to more precise measurement of this event, considering the context of illegality, and thereby contribute to appropriate health policies.

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