Deborah Constant

University of Cape Town, Kaapstad, Western Cape, South Africa

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Publications (13)28.7 Total impact

  • D Constant, D Grossman, N Lince, J Harries
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    ABSTRACT: Despite South Africa's liberal abortion law permitting abortion on request in the first trimester and under restricted conditions for second-trimester pregnancies, the practice of unsafe self-induced abortion persists. However, the prevalence of this practice, the methods used and the reasons behind it are relatively under-researched. As part of a larger study seeking to improve abortion services in the Western Cape Province, we explored reports of prior attempts to self-induce abortion among women undergoing legal second-trimester abortion.
    04/2014; 104(4):302-5.
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    ABSTRACT: Clients of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services in South Africa who use contraception following childbirth rely primarily on short-acting methods like condoms, pills, and injectables, even when they desire no future pregnancies. Evidence is needed on strategies for expanding contraceptive options for postpartum PMTCT clients to include long-acting and permanent methods. We examined the process of expanding contraceptive options in five health centers in Cape Town providing services to HIV-positive women. Maternal/child health service providers received training and coaching to strengthen contraceptive counseling for postpartum women, including PMTCT clients. Training and supplies were introduced to strengthen intrauterine device (IUD) services, and referral mechanisms for female sterilization were reinforced. We conducted interviews with separate samples of postpartum PMTCT clients (265 pre-intervention and 266 post-intervention) to assess knowledge and behaviors regarding postpartum contraception. The process of implementing the intervention was evaluated through systematic documentation and interpretation using an intervention tracking tool. In-depth interviews with providers who participated in study-sponsored training were conducted to assess their attitudes toward and experiences with promoting voluntary contraceptive services to HIV-positive clients. Following the intervention, 6% of interviewed PMTCT clients had the desired knowledge about the IUD and 23% had the desired knowledge about female sterilization. At both pre- and post-intervention, 7% of clients were sterilized and IUD use was negligible; by comparison, 75% of clients used injectables. Intervention tracking and in-depth interviews with providers revealed intervention shortcomings and health system constraints explaining the failure to produce intended effects. The intervention failed to improve PMTCT clients' knowledge about the IUD and sterilization or to increase use of those methods. To address the family planning needs of postpartum PMTCT clients in a way that is consistent with their fertility desires, services must expand the range of contraceptive options to include long-acting and permanent methods. In turn, to ensure consistent access to high quality family planning services that are effectively linked to HIV services, attention must also be focused on resolving underlying health system constraints weakening health service delivery more generally.
    Reproductive Health 01/2014; 11(1):3. · 1.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To compare complication rates, efficacy and acceptability of buccal misoprostol to laminaria for cervical preparation before dilation and evacuation (D&E) in South Africa. Study design We performed a randomized, single-blind trial comparing buccal misoprostol 400 mcg (1-2 doses, administered at least 3 hours before D&E) to laminaria inserted the day before D&E among women at 13-19 weeks gestation. The primary outcome was expulsion of the fetus prior to surgery; secondary outcomes included other complications, need for mechanical dilation, procedure duration, side effects, and satisfaction. Required sample size was 176 to detect a difference in expulsion of 20% to 5%, with a two-sided alpha of 0.05 and 80% power. Results Due to slow enrollment and low incidence of primary outcome, the study was stopped early. 159 women were randomized and 156 received treatment (78 in each group). Mean gestational age was 14.8 weeks (range 13.0-18.6 weeks). Complications were rare and did not differ by group (3 in each group; OR 1, 95% CI 0.20 - 5.11); this included 2 expulsions in the misoprostol group (2.6%). Misoprostol participants were more likely to require mechanical dilation compared to those receiving laminaria (35% vs. 8%; OR 6.4, 95% CI 2.4 – 16.5). The proportion of women reporting each side effect was similar except for diarrhea (21.3% in misoprostol group vs. 5.2% in laminaria group, p = 0.004). Procedure time and satisfaction did not differ between groups. Conclusions Both misoprostol and laminaria are associated with a low complication rate in this setting, although misoprostol requires more mechanical dilation and causes more diarrhea. Implications Cervical preparation using either laminaria or misoprostol can be safely used before D&E up to at least 19 weeks. Physicians using misoprostol must be skilled at mechanical dilation, since this is commonly required.
    Contraception 01/2014; · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives Home use of misoprostol for medical abortion is more convenient for many women than in-clinic use, but requires management of abortion symptoms at home without provider back-up. This study evaluated whether automated text messages to women undergoing medical abortion can reduce anxiety and emotional discomfort, and whether the messages can better prepare women for symptoms they experience. Study design A multisite randomized controlled trial was conducted in which women undergoing early medical abortion were allocated to receive standard-of-care (SOC) only (n = 235), or SOC + a messaging intervention (n = 234). Consenting women were interviewed at the clinic after taking mifepristone and again at their follow-up clinic visit 2 – 3 weeks later; the intervention group received text messages over the duration of this period. Emotional outcomes were evaluated using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Adler’s 12-item emotional scale and the Impact of Event Scale-Revised. Preparedness for the abortion symptoms and overall satisfaction with the procedure were assessed using 4-point Likert-type scales. Results Between baseline and follow-up, anxiety decreased more (p = 0.013), and less emotional stress was experienced (adjusted for baseline anxiety, p = 0.015), in the intervention compared to the SOC group. Participants in the intervention group were also more likely to report that they felt very well prepared for the bleeding (p < 0.001), pain (p = 0.042) and side effects (p = 0.027) they experienced. Acceptability and other negative emotions relating to the abortion did not differ between study groups. Ninety-nine percent of the intervention group stated that they would recommend the messages to a friend having the same procedure. Conclusions Text messages to women following mifepristone administration for early medical abortion may assist them in managing symptoms and appear highly acceptable to recipients. Implication Statement This randomized controlled trial provides evidence for the effectiveness of text messages following mifepristone administration in strengthening medical abortion care. The messages were associated with significant reductions in women’s anxiety and stress during the abortion process, they improved preparedness for the abortion symptoms experienced, and appeared highly acceptable.
    Contraception 01/2014; · 3.09 Impact Factor
  • Katherine Marianne de Tolly, Deborah Constant
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    ABSTRACT: Medical abortion is legal in South Africa but access and acceptability are hampered by the current protocol requiring a follow-up visit to assess abortion completion.
    JMIR mHealth and uHealth. 01/2014; 2(1):e5.
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    Journal of Biosocial Science 11/2012; · 0.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The prevention of unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women is a neglected strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Women who want to avoid unintended pregnancies can do this by using a modern contraceptive method. Contraceptive choice, in particular the use of long acting and permanent methods (LAPMs), is poorly understood among HIV-positive women. This study aimed to compare factors that influence women's choice in contraception and women's knowledge and attitudes towards the IUD and female sterilization by HIV-status in a high HIV prevalence setting, Cape Town, South Africa. A quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted using an interviewer-administered questionnaire amongst 265 HIV positive and 273 HIV-negative postpartum women in Cape Town. Contraceptive use, reproductive history and the future fertility intentions of postpartum women were compared using chi-squared tests, Wilcoxon rank-sum and Fisher's exact tests where appropriate. Women's knowledge and attitudes towards long acting and permanent methods as well as factors that influence women's choice in contraception were examined. The majority of women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unplanned (61.6% HIV positive and 63.2% HIV negative). Current use of contraception was high with no difference by HIV status (89.8% HIV positive and 89% HIV negative). Most women were using short acting methods, primarily the 3-monthly injectable (Depo Provera). Method convenience and health care provider recommendations were found to most commonly influence method choice. A small percentage of women (6.44%) were using long acting and permanent methods, all of whom were using sterilization; however, it was found that poor knowledge regarding LAPMs is likely to be contributing to the poor uptake of these methods. Improving contraceptive counselling to include LAPM and strengthening services for these methods are warranted in this setting for all women regardless of HIV status. These study results confirm that strategies focusing on increasing users' knowledge about LAPM are needed to encourage uptake of these methods and to meet women's needs for an expanded range of contraceptives which will aid in preventing unintended pregnancies. Given that HIV positive women were found to be more favourable to future use of the IUD it is possible that there may be more uptake of the IUD amongst these women.
    BMC Public Health 03/2012; 12:197. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A high percentage of abortions performed in South Africa are in the second trimester. However, little research focuses on women's experiences seeking second trimester abortion or the efficacy and safety of these services.The objectives are to document clinical and acceptability outcomes of second trimester medical and surgical abortion as performed at public hospitals in the Western Cape Province. We performed a cross-sectional study of women undergoing abortion at 12.1-20.9 weeks at five hospitals in Western Cape Province, South Africa in 2008. Two hundred and twenty women underwent D&E with misoprostol cervical priming, and 84 underwent induction with misoprostol alone. Information was obtained about the procedure and immediate complications, and women were interviewed after recovery. Median gestational age at abortion was earlier for D&E clients compared to induction (16.0 weeks vs. 18.1 weeks, p < 0.001). D&E clients reported shorter intervals between first clinic visit and abortion (median 17 vs. 30 days, p < 0.001). D&E was more effective than induction (99.5% vs. 50.0% of cases completed on-site without unplanned surgical procedure, p < 0.001). Although immediate complications were similar (43.8% D&E vs. 52.4% induction), all three major complications occurred with induction. Early fetal expulsion occurred in 43.3% of D&E cases. While D&E clients reported higher pain levels and emotional discomfort, most women were satisfied with their experience. As currently performed in South Africa, second trimester abortions by D&E were more effective than induction procedures, required shorter hospital stay, had fewer major immediate complications and were associated with shorter delays accessing care. Both services can be improved by implementing evidence-based protocols.
    BMC Health Services Research 09/2011; 11:224. · 1.77 Impact Factor
  • South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde 09/2010; 100(9):579-80. · 1.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The study describes the association between risk factors and quantitative ultrasound bone measures in black and mixed-race pre-menopausal South African women. Despite some differences between the two study groups, the findings generally lend support to the use of ultrasound for epidemiological studies of bone mass in resource-limited settings. INTRODUCTION: Quantitative ultrasound at the calcaneus is a convenient and inexpensive method of estimating bone strength well suited to community-based research in countries with limited resources. This study determines, in a large sample of pre-menopausal South African women, whether characteristics associated with quantitative ultrasound measures are similar to those shown to be associated with bone mineral density as measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry. METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 3,493 women (1,598 black and 1,895 mixed race), aged 18-44 living in Cape Town. Study nurses administered structured interviews on reproductive history, lifestyle factors, and measured height and weight. Calcaneus quantitative ultrasound measurements were obtained using the Sahara device. Adjusted means of ultrasound measures according to categories of risk factors were obtained using multivariable regression analysis. RESULTS: Associations between quantitative ultrasound measures and age, body mass index, age at menarche, parity, and primary school physical activity were similar to those known for bone mineral density as measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry. There were no clear associations between quantitative ultrasound measures and educational level, alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and current calcium intake. CONCLUSION: The data give qualified support to the use of quantitative ultrasound as an epidemiological tool in large studies of bone strength in pre-menopausal women.
    Archives of Osteoporosis 12/2009; 4(1-2):55-65.
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the concordance of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in 254 heterosexually active couples and the impact of HIV coinfection. Genital HPV detection was significantly more common among HIV-infected women than among HIV-seronegative women (99 [68%] of 145 women vs. 33 [31%] of 107 women; P < .001); similarly, HPV detection was significantly more common among HIV-infected men than among HIV-seronegative men (67 [72%] of 93 and 65 [43%] of 150 men, respectively; P < .001). HIV-seronegative male partners of HIV-infected women had a significantly greater prevalence of HPV infection than did HIV-seronegative male partners of HIV-seronegative women (38 [58%] of 65 men vs. 27 [32%] of 85 men; P = .001), indicating that HIV coinfection in one partner has a significant impact on the prevalence of HPV genital infection in the other partner. HPV concordance between couples was associated with HIV infection status (P < .001, by Pearson's chi2 test) and was significantly higher among HIV-infected couples than among HIV-seronegative couples. Type-specific sharing of HPV was associated with HIV concordance status (P = .024). HIV-seronegative couples were more likely to share 1 HPV type and were unlikely to share >1 type, whereas HIV-infected or HIV-discordant couples were more likely to share >1 HPV type. Women with a high HPV load frequently shared HPV types with their male partners, suggesting that a high HPV load may play a role in HPV transmission between partners. In conclusion, HIV coinfection in one or both sexually active partners increased HPV prevalence and HPV type-specific concordance.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 06/2009; 199(10):1514-24. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women using injectable progestin contraceptives (IPCs) have lower bone mineral density than nonusers. We assessed whether bone loss is completely reversible after cessation of IPC use, whether different IPCs have different effects and whether effects vary by age at first use. In a cross-sectional study in Cape Town, South Africa, 3487 premenopausal black and mixed race women aged 18-44 years were interviewed for information on contraceptive history and risk factors for decreased bone mineral density, and ultrasound measurements of the left calcaneus were taken. Adjusted means of the ultrasound measures for categories of IPC use were obtained using multivariable linear regression. Current users of IPCs had the lowest ultrasound measures, while the measures of women who had ceased IPC use at least 2-3 years previously were similar to or greater than those of never users of IPCs. The effects of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and norethisterone enanthate were similar. The calcaneus measures were unrelated to age at which use began after control for confounding factors. The data suggest that bone loss during IPC use is reversible and that this loss of bone is completely recovered several years after cessation of use.
    Contraception 01/2008; 76(6):425-31. · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a case-control study of hormonal contraceptives and invasive cervical cancer, an unexpected finding was a substantial decline in the prevalence of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection according to the lifetime number of Pap smears received. Here we assess the risk of 3 sexually transmitted viral infections -- herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2), HPV, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1 and 2 -- in relation to the lifetime receipt of Pap smears. Stored sera taken from 1540 controls were tested for HSV2 and HIV; cervical scrapings were tested for HPV. Confounder-adjusted odds ratios for the lifetime receipt of Pap smears were estimated, relative to never having had a Papanicolau test. For ever-receipt of a Papanicolau test, the odds ratios for HSV2 and HPV were 0.7 (95% confidence interval = 0.5-0.9) and 0.5 (0.3-0.7), respectively, and there were dose-response trends according to the lifetime number of Pap smears received (test for trend P = 0.02 and 0.04, respectively). For HSV2 the odds ratios according to last receipt declined from 0.8 for 10 or more years previously to 0.4 for <1 year previously (trend P = 0.002). For HPV the ORs were 0.4 (0.3-0.7) for last receipt 5-9 years previously and 0.5 (0.4-0.8) for less than 5 years previously; for HIV the odds ratio for last receipt less than 5 years previously was 0.4 (0.3-0.9). For HSV2 and HIV the crude odds ratio estimates were systematically lower than the adjusted estimates, and residual confounding cannot be ruled out. In particular, the true number of sexual partners may have been under-reported, and there was no information on the sexual activity of the male partners, or on other health behaviors of the women or their partners. We hypothesize that Pap smears may provoke a short-term immune response against sexually transmitted viral infections.
    Epidemiology 12/2007; 18(6):709-15. · 5.74 Impact Factor