Hadassah

Do Infertility Patients Find the Support They Need on the Internet?

Wednesday, Mar 4 2020

How often do you consult Google to relieve your anxiety about one thing or another? Dr. Hananel Holzer, head of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Fertility Department, found that, while hundreds of his infertility patients sought information and support on the internet, their needs were not always met. 

A total of 567 patients completed a survey about their use of the internet for infertility information or support. While 87.8 percent had used the internet for this purpose, 29.1 percent said their needs were not met, and this led some to experience greater anxiety and depression. Those who did use the internet were more likely to be women, highly educated, long-term patients, as well as more distressed. Most often, they searched for the causes of infertility and for treatment options, as well as surfing the scientific literature in general about infertility. The authors note that the least-searched topics were surrogacy, ways to discuss treatment with family and friends, and peer support. 

The study, conducted in collaboration with Canadian colleagues, was published in the December 2019 issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research. As a result of their findings, the authors propose that, though the internet plays an important role in enabling patients to access infertility information and support, those who are particularly distressed “may benefit from alternative sources of information and support or guidance from health care providers when searching the internet.” Dr. Holzer adds that the findings “suggest that we have to provide greater emotional support and not just information in our internet communications.” 

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