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Web-based searching for abortion information during health emergencies: a case study of Brazil during the 2015/2016 Zika outbreak

Leone, Tiziana ORCID: 0000-0001-9671-5382, Coast, Ernestina ORCID: 0000-0002-8703-307X, Correa, Sonia and Wenham, Clare ORCID: 0000-0001-5378-3203 (2021) Web-based searching for abortion information during health emergencies: a case study of Brazil during the 2015/2016 Zika outbreak. Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 29 (1). ISSN 2641-0397

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Identification Number: 10.1080/26410397.2021.1883804


Sexual and reproductive health needs and access are often neglected during health emergencies. The 2015/2016 Zika epidemic is an example of priorities shifting to the detriment of women’s health needs. The internet is a key tool for abortion knowledge sharing and seeking in countries where abortion is not legally available and it is also a key resource for tele-health. Yet, we know very little about how people use the internet, and the type of information searched for, to access abortion information and services. The aim of this study is to analyse to what extent and how the internet was used as a resource for abortion information during the Zika outbreak and its aftermath in Brazil in 2015/2016. Using Google Trends and Analytics data, we analyse contextually-specific abortion searches using standardised terms that reflect the overall representation of searches at that time alongside weekly levels of Zika incidence. The results show a heightened use of combined search terms for abortion and Zika, as well as abortion and microcephaly, suggesting a rise in abortion information searching linked to the epidemic. These searches were highly correlated with the level of Zika incidence. This study confirms the use of the internet for information seeking during a public health emergency. It demonstrates the need for appropriate internet resources to improve access to abortion information, especially in countries where abortion is highly restricted and stigmatised.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2021 06:51
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2024 00:27

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