Factors that influence online medication purchasing behaviour in pregnancy: a qualitative study

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Aim: To explore the factors that influence a pregnant woman’s intention to purchase
medication online.
Methods: Three online focus groups were conducted using asynchronous communication
in a closed Facebook group during May 2018, to gauge a deeper understanding of this
emerging phenomenon.
Results: A total of 23 women from six countries participated in the study. Strong predictive
factors that influenced purchasing behaviour included the importance of rapid retrieval
of information, cost-effectiveness, special offers, price comparison, time-efficiency and
availability of more product options. Women had a lack of knowledge about medication
safety and were likely to be influenced by product reviews and star ratings. Online
purchasing enabled women to avoid consultations with health care providers and helped
them feel more in control of their identity. Social norms impacted on women’s decision
making and women referred to the normalisation of online purchasing as being influential.
Pregnancy groups/forums and social media were seen as influential sources of advice and
previous experience of online purchasing was an important predictor of future behaviour.
Conclusion: Pregnant women who were internet-confident were more likely to have
established online purchasing behaviour and therefore more inclined to purchase online
medications. The internet offered women greater autonomy and rapid access to products.
Implications: Midwives need to be aware of this growing trend and ensure their
knowledge about purchasing online medication safely is evidence-informed and that
they facilitate pregnant women to make safe choices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages13
JournalEvidence Based Midwifery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 5 Jun 2020


  • theory of planned behaviour
  • pregnancy
  • medication
  • online purchasing
  • Facebook
  • social media


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