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Study: Online Information About VBACs Difficult for Lay Audience To Understand

Study: Online Information About VBACs Difficult for Lay Audience To Understand

December 4, 2014 — Many of the top Internet search results for information about vaginal birth after cesarean are written for an audience with a reading level higher than that of the general population, according to a study published in Women and Birth, Reuters reports.

The NIH Consensus Development Conference in 2010 concluded that VBACs are a reasonable option for most women. However, some women who are medically eligible for VBACs still have C-sections.

For the new study, researchers aimed to determine the kind of information women find online about VBAC, according to study author Haim Arie Abenhaim of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

To gather information, the researchers assessed 20 common Internet search results for "VBAC" or "vaginal birth after cesarean" and evaluated the sites for readability, aesthetic presentation and accountability, such as citing sources.

Key Findings

The researchers found that information on every site was written for college-level readers and that a non-medical audience would find it challenging to understand much of the material.

Medical organizations -- such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Mayo Clinic and NIH -- operated half of the sites, while the remaining sites included information from Wikipedia, blogs and communication boards.

More than half of the sites met the researchers' standards for accountability, and 11 sites were considered "aesthetically agreeable." Overall, none of the sites met all of the researchers' criteria Given that the appropriateness of VBAC varies from woman to woman, Abenhaim said the researchers' "overall recommendation is thus that women should have a discussion with their health care providers and obtain the best information that is applicable to their specific situation" (Doyle, Reuters, 12/2).