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For health information, women turn to the internet more than to friends, family or significant others – and second only to consulting physicians – according to comScore; moreover, 85% of online women have researched women’s health issues, including 63% who’ve researched birth-control options.

The comScore Pharmaceutical Solutions study was designed to help explain how women choose their birth control method, how they view alternative methods and ultimately whether their online activity influences their offline decisions.

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“Traditionally, women have relied on friends, family or a significant other for health-related information, including sexual health and contraception,” said Carolina Petrini, comScore senior vice-president. “But today, with the influx of newer-generation birth control methods and nontraditional pill regimens, more and more women are turning to the internet to sort through the clutter and organize their findings.”

User-Generated Content an Opportunity

The comScore also study evaluated the use and appeal of user-generated content (UGC) – such as blogs, forums, or chatrooms – among women seeking birth-control information online: One-third of respondents said they have consulted birth control-related UGC, with more than 40% being open to the idea.

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Choosing Birth Control – Drivers and Deterrents

With regard to factors influencing women’s birth control choice, survey respondents said effectiveness was the most valued attribute. However, only 9% said they have objected to various forms of birth control because they believe them to be ineffective.

The two main reasons that respondents would not consider a specific form of birth control are perceived side effects (45%) and inconvenience (42%):

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The study findings also showed that perceptions about side effects and inconvenience varied across the many forms of birth control:

  • For example, some survey respondents said they would not consider switching to the birth control pill, hormonal injections, patches and implants because of perceived side effects.
  • Alternatively, some respondents said they would not consider vaginal rings and diaphragms because they perceive them to be inconvenient or difficult to use.

“The findings suggest that because women generally believe birth control to be effective across forms, their decision-making process is largely based on their perceptions about side effects or inconvenience – which can differ from form to form,” said Petrini. “It is important for healthcare professionals and manufacturers of birth control products to understand these differing perceptions and behaviors so they can more effectively communicate with consumers and dispel misconceptions about a specific form of birth control.”

About the study: For “The Contraception Marketplace” whitepaper, comScore surveyed 921 women between the ages of 18 and 44 who had been sexually active in the previous six months and had used a form of prescription or over-the-counter birth control.

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