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Hum Reprod. 2013 Apr;28(4):1013-22. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des461. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Reflections of Dutch patients on IVF treatment in Belgium: a qualitative analysis of internet forums.

Author information

  • 1Bioethics Institute Ghent, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. wannes.vanhoof@ugent.be

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

What information is shared on Dutch internet forums with regard to infertility treatment in Belgium?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

The online discussion mainly regards medical treatments, feelings and experiences, and financial implications. The general tone of the discussion on the forums about fertility treatment in Belgium is that Belgian clinics offer better quality of care.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

The internet is the most important source of information for cross-border patients. Many Dutch patients visit Belgian clinics for infertility treatment.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:

This study comprised an inductive thematic analysis of eight Dutch internet forums about infertility.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:

All the threads that were active in a 15-month period (October 2010-December 2011) were retrieved and checked for relevance. This resulted in 77 threads containing 1813 posts that were used for thematic analysis.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

Eight themes emerged after data analysis: medical expertise and testing, feelings and experiences, costs, trying out different clinics, travel and waiting times, treatments in the Netherlands, cooperation between clinics/physicians and laws and regulations. Our analysis of shared patient experiences indicates that patients identify respect for the person behind the patient as the fundamental reason why quality of care is higher in Belgium. They define this respect as active involvement in the medical decision-making process, which is considered a form of patient-centred care.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:

The data from internet forums are not representative of the experience of Dutch IVF patients in Belgium. We are presenting a thematic analysis of information that circulates on the web, not making statements about IVF treatment in Belgium or the Netherlands.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

This is the first study on what information (future) cross-border patients are likely to find when they look for information online.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S):

W.V.H. has a Ph.D. grant and V.P. holds a Postdoctoral Mandate by the Flemish Foundation for Scientific Research (FWO-Vlaanderen). G.P. is supported by a full-time stipend at Ghent University. There are no competing interests.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:

N/A.

PMID:
23335612
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/des461
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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