Objective: The number of patients who seek health information on the internet is increasing. Rates are particularly high among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, due to health care barriers. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality and inclusivity of web-based information pertaining to LGBTQ family building.
Methods: The first 100 US-based websites pertaining to LGBTQ family building were identified through a terminology-based internet search. After eliminating 45 websites, 55 websites were found to be eligible. The 2016 Website Information Reliability Evaluation Instrument (of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services) was used to analyse the quality of information on each website. Websites were analysed for inclusivity of important topics surrounding LGBTQ family building.
Results: A total of 46 websites (83.6%) belonged or were related to reproductive services and served as advertisements for their respective owners; nine websites (16.4%) belonged to third parties. No website met more than four of the six major reliability criteria, and 42 websites (76.4%) met only one or two of the six major reliability criteria. When inclusivity was considered, 29 websites (52.7%) mentioned options for transgender individuals and nine websites (16.4%) mentioned adoption.
Conclusions: There is a lack of reliable web-based information for LGBTQ family building and a need for improvement in quality and scope. Improvements could lead to a shift in reproductive health care towards better inclusion of and catering to LGBTQ individuals.
Keywords: Information-seeking behaviour; internet; parenting; pregnancy; reproductive health; transgender people.