Health websites should do a better job reflecting evidence about miscarriage

Every year, more than 1 million women in the US experience a miscarriage. The public believes this is uncommon, however at least 1 in 10 pregnancies confirmed by a clinician results in early pregnancy loss. These misperceptions can be stigmatizing, leaving many people uninformed about what to expect during and after a miscarriage. People may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed discussing symptoms with a partner, friends or family. The internet can thus be a valuable resource to provide information, help patients feel prepared to see a provider and empower them to ask questions about treatment options.

New research from ANSIRH explores the accuracy and completeness of information about miscarriage on many of the popular sites people are likely to turn to. Researchers found that the majority of popular health websites they reviewed included information about miscarriage aimed at consumers. That information was mostly a complete and accurate representation of the ACOG Practice Bulletin on early pregnancy loss.

However, there were some gaps. People searching for information about diagnosis, treatment and what to expect after miscarriage would be exposed to incomplete or missing information. Topics that were missing or inaccurate included how the diagnosis of miscarriage may require multiple evaluations over time, how the patient’s preference for the pregnancy should influence management and about the use of medication for miscarriage management.

All of these are important topics that could help prepare patients to understand what to expect, to be more involved in making decisions about their care and to ask their healthcare providers more informed questions. These findings could be used to update information on consumer-facing websites to better serve people seeking evidence-based information on miscarriage. They could also help healthcare providers understand the level of accurate and complete information that is widely available to patients prior to seeking medical care.