Publication date: Dec 01, 2023
Following the U. S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision, access to abortion education is increasingly regionally dependent. Participation in values clarification workshops on abortion can improve abortion knowledge and reduce stigma. Traditionally, values clarification workshops occur in person, yet medical education increasingly utilizes online learning. We sought to understand how a virtual platform impacted medical students and Obstetrics and Gynecology (ObGyn) residents’ experience with a values clarification workshop on abortion. We conducted values clarification workshops over Zoom with medical students and ObGyn residents at four midwestern teaching hospitals from January 2021-December 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. We held semi-structured interviews with participants and facilitators to learn about how the virtual format impacted their experience with the workshop. Four researchers analyzed transcripts using an inductive approach to generate codes then themes. We interviewed 24 medical students, 13 ObGyn residents, and five workshop facilitators. Participants and facilitators found the virtual platform to have both unique advantages and disadvantages. Four central themes were identified: 1) Screen as a barrier: participants noted obstacles to conversation and intimacy. 2) Emotional safety: participants felt comfortable discussing sensitive topics. 3) Ease of access: participants could access virtual workshops regardless of location. 4) Technology-specific features: Zoom features streamlined aspects of the workshop and allowed for anonymous contributions to discussion. Our findings suggest that a virtual platform can be a convenient and effective way to deliver values clarification workshops on abortion, and this technology could be leveraged to expand access to this training in areas without trained facilitators.