Women More Likely to Turn to the Internet than Friends or Family for Health Information

By February 07, 2008

comScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, a couple of weeks ago released results from a recent study showing that – second only to consulting physicians – women turn most often to the Internet for health informa

tion. Eighty-five percent of women using the Internet have researched women’s health issues online while two out of three (63 percent) have used the Internet specifically to learn about birth control options.

The 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. comScore surveyed 921 women between the ages of 18 and 44, who had been heterosexually-active in the past six months and had used a form of prescription or over-the-counter birth control.

“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 non-traditional pill regimens, more and more women are turning to the Internet to sort through the clutter and organize their findings. As is true in many other areas of healthcare, the consumer has become much more proactive. She wants to be informed of all of her choices, and she is relying on the Internet for answers.”

User-Generated Content Represents Opportunity
As the number of women using the Internet for health information increases, the importance of user-generated content (“UGC”) also becomes vital – providing women with the opportunity to engage in health conversations online. The comScore study evaluated the use and appeal of UGC – such as blogs, forums, or chatrooms – among women seeking birth control information online. Study findings showed that a third of respondents have consulted birth control-related UGC, with more than 40 percent being open to the idea. These insights confirm the already popular industry trend toward more online health discussion.

Drivers and Deterrents in Choosing Birth Control
With regard to factors influencing women’s birth control choice, survey respondents said effectiveness was the most valued attribute. However, only nine percent said they have objected to various forms of birth control because they believe them to be ineffective. In fact, the two main reasons respondents would not consider a specific form of birth control are perceived side effects (45 percent) and inconvenience (42 percent).

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 Ms. 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.”

To request a copy of The Contraception Marketplace, a comScore white paper, or for more information on comScore Pharmaceutical Solutions, please visit www.comscore.com/contact.
To learn more About comScore Pharmaceutical Solutions, visit www.comscore.com/solutions/pharma.asp

To learn more about comScore, visit www.comscore.com

SOURCE: comScore, Inc. PR - RESTON, VA, January 22, 2008

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