Disparities between online assisted reproduction patient education for same-sex and heterosexual couples

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

Does the prevalence of online education in fertility center websites differ for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) couples compared to online education for heterosexual couples?

SUMMARY ANSWER

This review of fertility center websites showed that the majority of websites with patient education for heterosexual couples do not have similar materials for LGBT couples.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

In order to have biologically related children, LGBT individuals or couples utilize assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Fertility clinic websites provide online education to familiarize patients with the different ART procedures; however, no studies have examined the prevalence of educational information for LGBT couples compared to information for heterosexual couples utilizing ART.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION

This website review evaluated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-reported fertility center websites. Websites were reviewed in 2014 using the latest 2011 CDC report, and reviewed again in 2015 with the latest 2013 CDC report.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHOD

Patient education information was coded using categories determined after a sample review, and differences were analyzed with χ2 tests, with P-values calculated with Fisher's exact test.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

In 2014, 31.1% (121) of 389 websites with information for heterosexual couples also contained information for LGBT couples. In 2015, the number of fertility centers with information for LGBT couples increased by 52.9% to 185 (P < 0.001) of 407 (45.5%) fertility center websites. However, the majority of fertility clinic websites (54.5%) with information for heterosexual couples still do not include information specific to LGBT couples.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

The lack of online information on fertility center websites may not directly reflect the quality of care LGBT individuals or couples receive in the clinic, and the effect of this absence of online information on the clinical experiences of LGBT patients is unknown.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

These findings add to the growing body of work showing disparities in the treatment of LGBT persons compared to the overall population. To overcome these discrepancies, healthcare providers should adapt their practice to include this growing and underserved patient population.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

Funding was provided by the Medical Student Summer Research Scholarship, Barbur Khalique Foundation. There are no competing interests.

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