Errors: Post-abortion mental health study

March 6, 2012 at 1:25 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO, March 6 (UPI) -- A study purporting to show a causal link between abortion and later mental health problems has fundamental analytical errors, U.S. researchers said.

Julia Steinberg of the University of California, San Francisco, and Lawrence Finer of the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit group in New York and Washington pertaining to sexual and reproductive health, outlined in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research of the study's serious methodological errors.

The journal's editor and the director of the data set used in the study concluded in an accompanying commentary that "the Steinberg-Finer critique has considerable merit," that the Coleman paper utilized a "flawed" methodology and that "the Coleman analysis does not support the authors' assertions."

The Journal of Psychiatric Research's editor's commentary now supports that conclusion.

"This is not a scholarly difference of opinion; their facts were flatly wrong. This was an abuse of the scientific process to reach conclusions that are not supported by the data," Steinberg said in a statement. "The shifting explanations and misleading statements that they offered over the past two years served to mask their serious methodological errors."

Steinberg and Finer's critique was published in Journal of Psychiatric Research' along with a short response from Coleman. Coleman acknowledged that she and her colleagues used lifetime mental health diagnoses -- rather than 12-month or 30-day diagnoses, as she previously stated or implied because they wanted to "capture as many cases of mental health problems as possible."

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