To describe the factors patients and physicians prioritize during first-trimester miscarriage management and assess what drives satisfaction with care.
We conducted a mixed-methods study of clinically stable women seeking surgical, medical, or expectant miscarriage treatment. Women with first-trimester fetal demise or anembryonic gestation (N=55) completed demographic and psychosocial surveys. Using purposive sampling, 45 (82%) completed in-depth interviews. Fifteen obstetricians were interviewed. Participants described factors that informed their counseling (physicians) or decision-making (patients). Content analysis used an integrated approach with inductively and deductively derived codes. Patient-derived themes were stratified by treatment choice. Associations between variables and treatment choices were analyzed.
Thirty-four women (62%) received surgical management, 19 (35%) received medical, and two (4%) received expectant. Physicians expected that women with prior pregnancies have strong management preferences, and indeed, multigravid patients were less likely to change their initial treatment choice after counseling than primigravid patients (12% compared with 42%, odds ratio [OR] 0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04–0.81, P=.03). Physicians favored patient-centered decisions and patients chose the treatment that they thought would least affect other responsibilities. Those ultimately receiving surgical management had a higher monthly income (adjusted OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.04–1.63, P=.023) and more social support (adjusted OR 2.45, 95% CI 1.07–5.61, P=.035) than the medical group. The surgical group cited loss acceptance, a favorable perception of surgery, and a desire to expedite the miscarriage as decisive factors. The medical group endorsed control over, and timed completion of, the miscarriage in a more intimate setting, an aversion to surgery or anesthesia, and a perception of improved fertility preservation as decisive factors. Regardless of treatment choice, satisfaction with treatment was linked to a supportive clinical team and expeditious resolution.
Prior pregnancy experiences, obligations, and sociodemographic factors influence miscarriage management decision-making. Structured counseling, especially for primigravid patients, could improve both the physician and the patient experience with miscarriage care.