Use of mifepristone as an example of conflicting and misleading medical information on the internet

BJOG. 2002 Apr;109(4):437-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2002.t01-1-01124.x.


Objective: To evaluate the accuracy and reliability of medical information available on the internet regarding medical abortion using mifepristone, with special emphasis on the possible bias of the internet websites providing the information.

Methods: A systematic search of the internet identified patient-oriented websites distributing medical information about mifepristone. The sites were divided into three groups according to their views of the drug (i.e. in favour, against or indifferent).

Results: Forty sites met the criteria for inclusion in our analysis: 15 sites (37.5%) were in favour of using mifepristone, 16 (40%) were against and nine (22.5%) were indifferent. Incorrect information, found in 12 sites (30%), was significantly more common (P < 0.006) in websites that opposed the use of mifepristone than in websites that favoured it, 56.3% and 6.7%, respectively. Websites against the use of mifepristone provided significantly more (P < 0.05) graphic descriptions (31.3% vs 0%) and significantly fewer (P < 0.03) links (18.8% vs 60%), than the sites in favour of the use of mifepristone.

Conclusions: We found that information provided on the internet regarding the use of mifepristone was significantly less complete and accurate and included more graphic descriptions when the site opposed medical termination of pregnancy. These findings reinforce the concerns regarding the reliability and credibility of medical information on the internet and the need for quality control.

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal*
  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Computer Communication Networks / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Systems / standards*
  • Mifepristone*
  • Quality Control


  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal
  • Mifepristone