Contraception Counseling in the Digital Age

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The digital age has revolutionized how providers and patients seek medical information and access care. The Internet, flush with online forums and other social media networks, has replaced services once provided by medical libraries. Meanwhile, downloadable apps help patients remember medications, choose treatments, and remotely access face-to-face physician encounters. Unfortunately, technology comes at a price. Reputable, data-driven sites exist alongside sites riddled with inaccuracies. The lack of peer review means that discredited ideas and therapies can resurface in the blogosphere, “going viral” and influencing the thoughts of hapless users. The Internet never forgets. Online media and digital technology pose unique challenges to family planning providers. The “net” offers a private environment to address sexual and reproductive health issues. Patients, especially adolescents, may prefer the anonymity of technology-based sources to consulting physicians or other community providers, but they may receive inaccurate information or information that fails to consider the psychosocial context of reproductive behavior. Family planning providers must become familiar with reputable technology-based options to ensure that family planning care remains accurate, accessible, and relevant in the ever-changing digital age.

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