The increasing availability of health information online combined with reduced access to health care providers due to the coronavirus pandemic means that more people are using the internet for health information. However, with no standardised regulation of the internet, the population is vulnerable to misinformation regarding important health information. This review aimed to evaluate the quality and readability of the online information available on emergency contraception (EC) options.
In this descriptive study, a Google search was performed using the term ‘emergency contraception options’ on 13 April 2020 yielding 232 results. Seventy-one results were excluded (34 inaccessible, 37 contained no medical information). The remaining 161 results were categorised by typology and assessed for credibility (JAMA criteria and HONcode), reliability (DISCERN tool) and readability (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Simple Measure of Gobbledygook).
Of all webpages evaluated, the most common typology was governmental. Credibility of web pages was poor (average JAMA score of 1.47 out of 4). Only 10.6% of webpages were HONcode certified. The most common DISCERN category was Fair (29.81%), closely followed by Poor (27.95%) reliability. On average, readability levels were above the recommended grade level for health information. The intrauterine device was discussed least frequently (86.96%) of all the EC options.
Online information was of low credibility, reliability and written above the recommended reading level. Clinicians should be aware of the poor quality of online information on EC options, and actively educate patients on what makes a source credible.