Is TikTok the new contraceptive counselor? Insights from an analysis of contraceptive side effects discourse on TikTok
Awarded 2023
Side effects matter: Centering people’s experiences with contraceptive side effects
Zoe Pleasure, MPH
University of Washington

Access to contraception is a fundamental human right, but incomplete knowledge and counseling around contraceptive methods, specifically side effects, can impede informed decision-making and contribute to adverse health outcomes. Traditional contraceptive counseling often fails to meet people’s needs, leading them to seek information from alternative sources such as the internet and social networking sites (SNSs) like TikTok. TikTok has emerged as a popular platform for discussing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) topics, including contraception, particularly among young people. This study will explore how TikTok is used to discuss perceived and experienced side effects of hormonal contraceptive methods. The researchers will employ a tiered search approach to identify videos discussing contraceptive side effects on TikTok. They will analyze these videos’ textual and video components using thematic content analysis techniques. The study will examine the frequency and variation of contraceptive side effects described in popular TikToks, the attributes of contraceptive methods mentioned, and how side effects are related to contraceptive decision-making. Additionally, the study will assess the presence of contraceptive misinformation on TikTok and examine how TikTok creators describe their experiences with clinical care related to side effects. By analyzing user-generated content on TikTok, this study aims to leverage a frequently used but under-researched data source to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how people perceive and experience side effects. The findings can guide healthcare providers in addressing knowledge gaps and misinformation and inform researchers and clinicians on utilizing platforms like TikTok to understand and improve contraceptive knowledge and counseling.