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Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and Related Health Information on Pregnancy Resource Center Websites: A Statewide Content Analysis

Published:November 20, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2017.10.007

      Abstract

      Background

      Pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are nonprofit organizations with a primary mission of promoting childbirth among pregnant women. Given a new state grant program to publicly fund PRCs, we analyzed Georgia PRC websites to describe advertised services and related health information.

      Methods

      We systematically identified all accessible Georgia PRC websites available from April to June 2016. Entire websites were obtained and coded using defined protocols.

      Results

      Of 64 reviewed websites, pregnancy tests and testing (98%) and options counseling (84%) were most frequently advertised. However, 58% of sites did not provide notice that PRCs do not provide or refer for abortion, and 53% included false or misleading statements regarding the need to make a decision about abortion or links between abortion and mental health problems or breast cancer. Advertised contraceptive services were limited to counseling about natural family planning (3%) and emergency contraception (14%). Most sites (89%) did not provide notice that PRCs do not provide or refer for contraceptives. Two sites (3%) advertised unproven “abortion reversal” services. Approximately 63% advertised ultrasound examinations, 22% sexually transmitted infection testing, and 5% sexually transmitted infection treatment. None promoted consistent and correct condom use; 78% with content about condoms included statements that seemed to be designed to undermine confidence in condom effectiveness. Approximately 84% advertised educational programs, and 61% material resources.

      Conclusions

      Georgia PRC websites contain high levels of false and misleading health information; the advertised services do not seem to align with prevailing medical guidelines. Public funding for PRCs, an increasing national trend, should be rigorously examined. Increased regulation may be warranted to ensure quality health information and services.
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      Biography

      Andrea Swartzendruber, MPH, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on women's sexual and reproductive health and adolescent health.

      Biography

      Anna Newton-Levinson, MPH, is a PhD Student in the Behavioral Sciences and Health Education Department at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. Her research focuses on evaluating reproductive health programs and services and examining access to quality reproductive health services.

      Biography

      Ashley E. Feuchs, MPH, is currently a clinical research coordinator at the San Francisco Veteran's Affairs Health Care System with interests and experience in sexual and reproductive health, chronic pain and opioid dependency, and complementary and integrative health programming.

      Biography

      Ashley L. Phillips, MPH, is a research project coordinator at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health whose current work focuses on prevention of sexual risk behavior and sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus, among young women.

      Biography

      Jennifer Hickey, MS, is a law student at Emory University School of Law. She intends to practice civil rights law with a focus on reproductive justice and recently served as Chief of Staff for a Representative of the Georgia General Assembly.

      Biography

      Riley J. Steiner, MPH, is a PhD Candidate in the Behavioral Sciences and Health Education Department at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. Her research concerns adolescent health and the integration of women's sexual and reproductive health.