Objective: To evaluate and compare the extent of Internet use by infertile couples attending a government-funded and a private assisted reproductive technology clinic.
Design: A prospective study.
Setting: One private and one public tertiary care fertility clinic in Toronto.
Patient(s): 250 patients were approached, and 150 (60%) responded.
Intervention(s): A self-administered questionnaire on socioeconomic status, fertility history, and computer and Internet use.
Main outcome measure(s): The extent of Internet use on fertility-related issues was determined, correlated with socioeconomic status and fertility history, and compared between the two clinics.
Result(s): Higher levels of education, employment, and combined family income characterized patients at the private clinic. A similarly high proportion of patients at both clinics had previous experience with the Internet (mean, 75.3%). Overall, 42% of the total study population and 55.8% of current Internet users had used the Internet for fertility-related issues. Using a logistic regression model, none of the patients' socioeconomic or clinical variables predicted Internet use. Thirty percent of the patients found the Internet helpful in their decision making process.
Conclusion(s): A considerable proportion of infertile couples from all socioeconomic levels is actively using the Internet with regard to their fertility problems. Health care providers should consider the Internet an important tool for all aspects of their interaction with infertile persons.