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Contraception. 2020 Feb 4. pii: S0010-7824(20)30033-0. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2020.01.014. [Epub ahead of print]

Birth Control Connect: A randomized trial of an online group to disseminate contraceptive information.

Author information

1
University of California, San Francisco, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Person-Centered Reproductive Health Program, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110, USA; University of California, San Francisco, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110, USA; University of California, San Francisco, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. Electronic address: christine.dehlendorf@ucsf.edu.
2
University of California, San Francisco, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Person-Centered Reproductive Health Program, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. Electronic address: edith.fox@ucsf.edu.
3
University of California, San Francisco, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Person-Centered Reproductive Health Program, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. Electronic address: anjana.sharma@ucsf.edu.
4
University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication, Network Dynamics Group, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; University of California, Davis, Department of Communication, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Electronic address: jwzzhang@ucdavis.edu.
5
University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication, Network Dynamics Group, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address: sijia.yang@asc.penn.edu.
6
University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication, Network Dynamics Group, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address: dcentola@asc.penn.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We sought to test whether participation in an online group including IUD users influenced IUD-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior among IUD non-users, as a proof-of-concept evaluation of information dissemination for less commonly used or novel contraceptives.

STUDY DESIGN:

We conducted a blinded, randomized controlled trial on the effect of online communication with IUD users within an online program called Birth Control Connect. Participants were women age 18-45 living in the United States who had never used an IUD. We invited participants randomized to the intervention to join two-week, nine-member discussion groups including four satisfied IUD users and five IUD non-users; we invited control participants to groups including nine IUD non-users. We performed chi-squared tests on IUD knowledge, information-seeking, informational support and use in immediate post-surveys, and t-tests comparing change in IUD attitudes and frequency of logins to discussion groups.

RESULTS:

We invited 488 IUD non-users and enrolled them into 70 groups between October 2015 and April 2016. We found increased positive attitudes towards the IUD in the intervention arm (0.65-point increase between pre- and post-surveys, versus 0.05 mean change for control arm, p = 0.03 for hormonal IUD, with a trend in the same direction for the non-hormonal IUD). Informational support also increased, with 70.3% of intervention arm participants self-reporting that they gained a better idea of what the IUD would be like, compared to 51.3% in control arm (p < 0.01). Of intervention participants, 63.3% versus 51.3% of control participants reported gaining new information from their group (p = 0.03). There were no differences in correct responses to knowledge items or information-seeking between groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Online exposure to IUD users increased positive attitudes toward the IUD and informational support for decision-making about the IUD among non-users.

IMPLICATIONS STATEMENT:

Online spaces provide a promising environment for the exchange of accurate, useful contraceptive information based on real user experiences. Interventions aiming to harness social communication through structured online conversations (e.g., on existing social media platforms) about user experiences with lesser-known contraceptive methods such as the IUD may be worthwhile.

KEYWORDS:

Communication; Contraception; IUD; Internet; Online; Social

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