Online communication provides an empowering environment for the exchange of accurate and useful contraceptive information, when based on real user experiences, according to the results of a blinded, randomized controlled trial in the journal Contraception.
“Some women may face barriers to considering the full range of contraceptive methods because of lack of knowledge or perceptions of social norms that do not support the use of specific methods,” said principal investigator Christine Dehlendorf, MD, director of the Person-Centered Reproductive Health Program at the University of California, San Francisco. “We were interested in understanding whether online social communication between users of an intrauterine device (IUD) and non-users could decrease barriers to women contemplating use of this method, including lack of information and perceptions of negative social norms about IUDs.”
The study enrolled 488 women aged 18 to 45 who were living in the United States and had never used an IUD. Subjects participated in one of 70 groups of an online program called Birth Control Connect between October 2015 and April 2016. The women were randomized to either online discussion groups with IUD users (intervention group; n = 174) or to online discussion groups without IUD users (control group; n = 314).
Each study participant joined a nine-member, online discussion group for 2 weeks. The discussion groups for the intervention participants comprised four satisfied IUD users and five IUD non-users, whereas the control participants consisted of nine IUD non-users.