BACKGROUND: Repeat caesarean sections make a substantial contribution to the overall caesarean section rate. It is important to understand what influences women to choose this option when the alternative of attempting vaginal birth after caesarean section is available. As many such women use the internet while seeking information on their options, the aim of this study was to assess content of websites on birth after previous caesarean and identify website characteristics which predict content.
METHODS: An internet survey of the forty eight most frequently encountered websites retrieved from a search using various terms relating to birth after caesarean section via a popular search engine was performed. Websites were assessed for their content supportive of either vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) or elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS), using the RCOG patient information document, 'Birth after previous caesarean; Information for You' as a 'gold standard'. A simple scoring method which categorised information into either supportive of VBAC (14 facts available) or ERCS (10 facts available) was employed and mean scores compared. Poisson regression analysis was used to assess the extent to which the score was predicted by website funding source, country of origin, author status and intended audience.
RESULTS: A mean of 42.4% (SD 23.8) of facts supportive of VBAC and 44.8% (SD 25.0) of facts supportive of ERCS were featured across the 48 websites, with corresponding scores in the five most frequently encountered websites being 40.0% (SD 13.9) and 66.0% (SD 20.7). Extent of featured information supportive of ERCS was related to country of origin with the UK having higher scores on average than the US.
CONCLUSIONS: Women searching for internet information on birth after previous caesarean are exposed to incomplete information. Origin of website, source of funding and intended audience have a significant effect on website content.
- Caesarean section
- Vaginal birth
- Internet information