Background: While medication abortion has the potential to expand abortion access, barriers persist. One such barrier may be locating a provider. Research has shown that individuals commonly use the internet to self-refer for abortion services. However, we have previously shown that the quality of information available online for abortion self-referral is low, and it is logical to assume that low-quality information can impair abortion access by delaying care. Information quality could be improved through the action of search engines such as Google. Our interdisciplinary team, which combines research, clinical, and computer engineering expertise from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Digital Defense Fund, is seeking to expand this prior work in several ways.
Methods: Briefly, we will use automated search tools developed by Digital Defense Fund engineers to use a set of crowdsourced terms in English and Spanish that may be used by individuals seeking abortion services to mimic searches from each of the nearly 42,000 U.S. zip codes. Our first aim is to describe the quality of information available online for medication abortion self-referral. Our second aim is to leverage our existing relationship with Google to determine whether this information can effectively assist Google in improving the search product related to medication abortion.
Proposed analysis: This work has potential to improve online information quality for medication abortion self-referral and thus expand access for individuals who may have difficulty accessing abortion care in a timely manner.