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Digital provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare: promising but not a panacea
  1. Catriona Melville
  1. Marie Stopes Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Catriona Melville, Marie Stopes Australia, Melbourne, VIC 4160, Australia; Catriona.Melville{at}mariestopes.org.au

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Provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) via digital services has seen an exponential expansion globally. This increase has been even more evident in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital health is a broad umbrella term encompassing eHealth and includes online platforms and mobile device-based telehealth (mHealth). Benefits to healthcare delivery by these methods include reducing barriers to travel, decreasing the economic costs of absences from work for appointments, minimising the impact on caregiving, and privacy and convenience of accessing care from a person’s home.

A cohort study published in this issue of the Journal by Rezel-Potts et al1 describes the findings of a free-to-access online contraception service offered in two UK London boroughs with relatively high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage. The service provided a supply of oral contraceptive pills delivered by post to the client’s home. Early adopters of the service broadly reflected the sociodemographics of the local population, however, black and ethnic minority (BME) clients were significantly less likely to make repeat orders of contraception. No conclusions could be drawn as to why this difference occurred and whether the mode of delivery of the service was responsible for this outcome. Previous studies demonstrate that BME groups are more likely to discontinue contraception at 12 months in face-to face services.2 An internet-based service …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors Catriona Melville is the sole author of this editorial.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests Dr Catriona Melville is an employee of Marie Stopes Australia, which delivers one of the telemedicine services cited in this editorial.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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