Despite the increased use of the Web for health-related information, there is a need to question whether the Internet and the ease of seeking health information that it provides leads to more (patient) empowerment. As well as being a time of joy and expectations, pregnancy can be a worrying time for women, especially first time mums-to-be, with unfamiliar experiences and symptoms and concerns for the baby as well as the self.
The women who took part in the study understood that caution was needed at times while reading the stories of others, acknowledging the potential for extreme cases or worst case scenarios. This is particularly pertinent to the Internet, as this wide range of stories may not be as easily accessible if stories where confined to those in a woman’s offline social circle. The interviews provide insights into how and why pregnant women search online for information and perhaps more so, support while pregnant.
The study concluded that searching for health information and advice online during pregnancy is viewed as quick, easy, and accessible. The affordances of the Internet have provided women with the opportunity to go online as a first port of call. Knowing they were not alone and reading the experiences or symptoms of other pregnant women enabled women to normalise their experience and was ultimately reassuring for pregnant women.
““You Sort of Go Down a Rabbit Hole…You’re Just Going to Keep on Searching”: A Qualitative Study of Searching Online for Pregnancy-Related Information During Pregnancy”
Julie Prescott, Lynn Mackie
J Med Internet Res 2017 (Jun 05); 19(6):e194