Quality of Online Information Regarding Oral Combined Hormonal Contraceptives: A Content Analysis
Author(s): ,
Andreana Marcinkow
Affiliations:
BScPharm
Polina Parkhomchik
,
Polina Parkhomchik
Affiliations:
Alyssa Schmode
Alyssa Schmode
Affiliations:
Canadian Pharmacists Conference ePoster Library. Yuksel N. Jun 4, 2017; 174260
Nese Yuksel
Nese Yuksel
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Abstract
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Objectives
Combined oral contraceptives (COC) remain a popular choice among women. The Internet is an easily accessible source of information on contraception options. The objective of this study was to evaluate the quality of information provided on COCs on the Internet.

Methods
A quantitative content analysis was completed on websites containing patient health information on COC. The search was completed in October 2016 using Google. Search terms included birth control pill, oral contraception, oral birth control, birth control, and pregnancy prevention. The first 3 pages of search results were screened according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. The DISCERN instrument was used to determine the content quality. Websites were analyzed separately by two coders; discrepancies were resolved by a third coder.

Results
Of the 155 websites identified, 32 were eligible for review. Only 25% of sites mentioned that COCs were safe. Majority provided at least one mechanism of action (94%). Most sites mentioned contraceptive benefit (84%), however non-contraceptive benefits were variable with dysmenorrhea (84%) and menstrual blood loss (84%) most commonly mentioned. Increased risk of VTE was listed in 78% sites, alongside stroke (53%), and myocardial infarction (44%). The most common side effect listed was breakthrough bleeding (97%) with mood changes in 50% of sites. Contraindications were listed in just over half of the sites. Only 34% of sites provided correct information on starting COC, while just 16% sites included information that was accurate on what to do with missed pills. Few sites addressed myths of COC. The DISCERN score for overall quality was 2.84 (SD±0.72) indicating low to moderate quality. The mean Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level was 9 (SD±2.0).

Conclusion
Online information on COCs was variable in quality, often missing key information to make informed decisions. Pharmacists should be cautious when advising women to retrieve health information regarding COCs online.

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