Quality of fertility clinic websites

Fertil Steril. 2005 Mar;83(3):538-44. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.08.036.


Objective: To evaluate the overall quality of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART)-affiliated fertility clinic websites, according to American Medical Association (AMA) Internet health information guidelines.

Design: Cross-sectional evaluation.

Setting: Two hundred sixty-six websites drawn from the SART directory and the World Wide Web.

Intervention(s): Three objective scoring scales (ownership, content, and navigation) adapted from AMA guidelines.

Main outcome measures: Seven objective criteria for ownership, 8 for content, and 11 for website navigation.

Result(s): Two thirds of SART-affiliated fertility clinics have functional websites. Of the 236 sites evaluated, 58 belong to hospital centers. Overall, the scores for the three scoring scales were low. Compared with the websites of non-hospital clinics, those of hospital centers were more likely to include information about site ownership and affiliations (89.7% vs. 60.7%) and patient privacy (34.5% vs. 20.8%). Also, contents of hospital center websites were significantly easier to distinguish from advertisements (70.7% vs. 47.7%), and reference sources for specific contents were easier to identify (27.6% vs. 8.4%). Hospital center websites were more likely to indicate affiliations and financial disclosures of authors (25.9% vs. 10.7%), to feature a site map (25.9% vs. 12.3%), and to have a search function (31.0% vs. 5.6%).

Conclusion(s): Websites of SART-affiliated clinics fail to meet most of the AMA health information guidelines. The quality of the hospital centers' websites is better than that of private clinics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Education / standards*
  • Humans
  • Internet / organization & administration
  • Internet / standards*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital*
  • Private Sector*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted*
  • Societies, Medical