What Is the Impact of the Internet on Decision-Making in Pregnancy? A Global Study

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Background: Women need access to evidence-based information to make informed choices in pregnancy. A search for health information is one of the major reasons that people worldwide access the Internet. Recent years have witnessed an increase in Internetusage by women seeking pregnancy-related information. The aim of this study was to build onprevious quantitative studies to explore women’s experiences and perceptions of using the Internetfor retrieving pregnancy-related information, and its influence on their decision-making processes. Methods: This global study drew on the interpretive qualitative traditions together with a theoretical model on information seeking, adapted to understand Internet use in pregnancy and its role in relation to decision-making. Thirteen asynchronous online focus groups across five countries were conducted with 92 women who had accessed the Internet for pregnancy-related information over a 3-month period. Data were readily transferred and analyzed deductively. Results: The overall analysis indicates that the Internet is having a visible impact on women’s decision making in regards to all aspects of their pregnancy. The key emergent theme was the great need for information. Four broad themes also emerged: ‘‘validate information,’’ ‘‘empowerment,’’ ‘‘share experiences,’’ and ‘‘assisted decision-making.’’ Women also reported how the Internet provided support, its negative and positive aspects, and as a source of accurate, timely information. Conclusion: Health professionals have a responsibility to acknowledge that women access the Internet for support and pregnancy-related information to assist in their decision-making. Health professionals must learn to work in partnership with women to guide them toward evidence-based websites and be prepared to discuss the ensuinginformation. (BIRTH 38:4 December 2011)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-345
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2011


  • decision-making
  • information seeking
  • Internet
  • online focus groups
  • pregnant
  • women


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