Those planning families are vulnerable to being misinformed by the media due to a greater focus on profit and a lesser focus on providing quality, evidence-based information geared towards helping them make educated decisions. An example of this is information on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) used to initiate pregnancies presented on the websites of clinics that provide related services. An analysis done on clinic websites providing information on their ARTs and induction services found that many were guilty of using language intended to advertise their services as superior to others (Walden, 2013). Many clinics were found to violate polices put in place by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and American Medical Association (AMA) by describing their services as “superior” to other clinics and using colorful language such as “dream”, many failing to provide objective and comparable information. This type of practice can get in the way of potential parent’s ability to receive evidence-based information that they can use to compare and make an educated decision.
New parents; whether in preconception, prenatal, or postpartum stages; want to know the best ways in which to make healthy and sustainable choices for themselves and their children. Carrying parents (non-cisgendered males and non-gendered people can also carry children) want to know how their bodies may be affected by pregnancy and what to expect when giving birth. Posting birthing videos on the internet has become a trend in recent years (MacGregor, 2012). Using birthing videos as an educational tool is one way that carrying parents can figure out what to expect. Professionally made birthing videos can also be a good way to ease anxiety among expecting parents as well, since they’re less likely to show the scarier aspects of birth. Expecting and new parents also want to know what steps they can take to improve their reproductive health and prevent diseases; before, during, and after pregnancy. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted several requirements for insurers to cover without cost-sharing in their care packages, including: preventative care visits, tests, screenings, and counseling (Sonfield, 2012). Of course, whether or not these requirements have affected general reproductive knowledge and health depends on whether or not young people have been made aware of them. It’s also unknown how long the ACA will still apply to healthcare law, and how reproductive health and disease prevention will be covered without cost-sharing.
At this time the United States healthcare system operates in terms of how to make the biggest profit. Providing consumers with quality, evidence-based, and unbiased information is often put on the sidelines. Public health organizations attempt to regulate this information for the sake of education and integrity. For example, the AMA has guidelines for their clinics on how to formulate their websites. However Walden pointed out that the AMA does not check for compliance, and a study found that “the majority of fertility clinic websites failed to meet basic AMA guidelines…”(2013). So while guidelines are in place, they are not always met. New and expecting parents need to be wary of this system that doesn’t always have their best interest in mind.
Huang, J. Y., Discepola, F., Al-Fozan, H., & Tulandi, T. (2005). Quality of fertility clinic websites. Fertility and Sterility, 83(3), 538-544. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.08.036
MacGregor, H. (2012, September 6). The birth of a trend: Posting childbirth videos online. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-birth-movies-20120809-story.html
Pearson, R. (2016). Consumer Health: Birth, Birth Options, Maternal-Child Consumer Issues [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from chrome-extension://bpmcpldpdmajfigpchkicefoigmkfalc/views/app.html
Sonfield, A. (2012). Beyond Contraception: The Overlooked Reproductive Health Benefits of Health Reform’s Preventive Services Requirement. Guttmacher Policy Review, 15(4). Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2012/10/beyond-contraception-overlooked-reproductive-health-benefits-health-reforms-preventive
Walden, R. (2013, March). Direct-to-Consumer: Fertility Clinic Advertising on the Web. National Women’s Health Network: A Voice for Women, A Network for Change. Retrieved from https://www.nwhn.org/direct-to-consumer-fertility-clinic-advertising-on-the-web/