How is this study designed?

The ELSA study (elsa-studie.de) addresses the experiences and life situations of women with unintended pregnancies. The objective of the study is to learn more about the social and health pressures connected with the pregnancy, each woman’s own strengths and abilities, and the support she received.


The ELSA sub-project at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences focuses on the perspective of women who may face special challenges due to their life situation. We are interested in women who have a history of migration and/or undocumented status, or women who were experiencing violence in their relationship at the time of the unintended pregnancy. The aim is to learn more about the individual strengths and support, as well as the life situations, of these women with unintended pregnancies. We want to give them an opportunity to tell their stories and share their experiences. The study aims, on the basis of these personal experiences, to identify areas where support is lacking and to derive recommendations for the psychosocial and health care system. The ultimate goal is to help make long-lasting improvements to the support system.


We are looking for women who, at the start of their pregnancy,…

  • were living in a violent relationship
  • and/or had experience of migration or being refugees
  • and/or whose residency status in Germany was not secure.

In our research project, we want to learn about your own personal experiences. Did you experience any particular challenges? Who or what supported you? Where do you feel there are problems in terms of care and, looking back, what do you feel was positive or negative? The focus is on the time when you found out about the pregnancy: how and why did you decide whether or not to carry the pregnancy to term? And what happened after that? Regardless of whether this relates to counselling, medical care or psychosocial services, who supported you and where would you have liked to receive more support? This also relates to your social environment, your personal strengths and difficulties.

We would like to learn about your life circumstances in two ways: Firstly, in an online questionnaire which you can fill out using your own device or our tablet. And secondly, in a one-to-one conversation. You will be compensated for all the time you spend participating in each of these surveys.


Research questions

  1. What events or contexts in your individual biography, as well as social living conditions, influenced your decision about the unintended pregnancy? Consider experiences of violence, migration, refugee and insecure/undocumented residency status, personal and social resources, coping strategies, personal living situation and life choices, etc.
  2. How were the women able to inform themselves about pregnancy and termination? What information was accessible, was used and was suitably designed for the specific situation of the individual groups?
  3. From whom did women receive informal and formal advice? What was the support like, and the access to it (culturally sensitive, suitable for the individual’s needs, respectful, etc.)? Did the counselling influence their decision?
  4. In the event of a termination: How was the termination carried out? Where and with which methods? Access to the practice or similar.
  5. After a termination at t0 and t1: Were physical and psychological complaints and issues associated with the termination reported? If so, what were they? What do the women attribute these issues to? How do the women feel about their decision in hindsight?
  6. What would the women want in terms of informal and formal support in the event of an unintended pregnancy in the context of their individual life situation? Where do they see potential for improvement?

How are the interviews carried out?


Carrying out the online survey

The survey can be filled out using a link we provide on your own electronic device (tablet or laptop/computer, smartphone) or on tablets that we provide. The questions can be answered alone or with support from us. The survey is available in various languages.


Carrying out the interviews

Including preparation and follow-up time (getting to know each other, etc.), approx. 2 hours should be scheduled for each interview, even though the interviews themselves are generally expected to take a maximum of one hour.

If required, linguistic and cultural support can be provided digitally. The interpreters are professionally trained and have been briefed on the sensitivity of the topic. All individuals who are involved are obliged to maintain confidentiality.

It is possible to take breaks or even stop the interview at any time. The women may specify topics in advance that they do not want to discuss. Our interviewers have been specially trained in carrying out interviews in a sensitive manner.


What happens to my data?

The data will, of course, be evaluated in a completely anonymised manner. Personal data is always stored separately from the answers to the survey or the interviews, meaning that it cannot be traced back to any one individual. Personal data is also only stored insofar as the survey respondentsgive their consent.


How will the results be published?

Our results are to be published in various ways. As a final step, a report for the Federal Ministry of Health will be drafted in which we will compile our results and note potential gaps in care. We will be happy to keep you updated regarding upcoming publications by email.