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Publication Detail
Analysis of fertility clinic marketing of complementary therapy add-ons
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Stein J, Harper JC
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    24, 36
  • Journal:
    Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online
  • Volume:
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Acupuncture, complementary therapies, IVF, IVF add-ons, reflexology
  • Notes:
    © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Complementary therapies are often used during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. The aim of this study was to determine how UK fertility clinic websites are advertising complementary therapy add-ons. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) ‘Choose a Fertility Clinic’ website was used to identify fertility clinics and their websites. Acupuncture, reflexology, nutritional advice and miscellaneous complementary therapies were examined to determine treatment provision and costs. Treatment claims for acupuncture and reflexology were analysed using an inductive coding approach, and categorized depending on whether they pertained to holistic benefits, physiological benefits or improvements to IVF treatment outcome. At least one complementary therapy was advertised by 17 of 66 (26%) websites. Acupuncture was the most commonly advertised complementary therapy (16/66 clinic websites, 24%), followed by nutritionist services (11/66, 17%), reflexology (10/66, 15%) and other miscellaneous complementary therapies (9/66, 14%). Treatment costs were found to range from less than £50 for individual appointments to hundreds of pounds for treatment packages. Treatments were not always offered in-house at the fertility clinic, but rather patients were referred to an affiliated practitioner. Analysing claims relating to the complementary therapies highlighted that there were differences in the extent to which clinics claimed that complementary therapies benefited IVF, and that information occasionally acknowledged scientific research evidence but did not always present resources in an unbiased manner. Fertility clinic websites should provide accurate information for patients for complementary therapy add-ons. HFEA should add acupuncture and reflexology to their traffic-light system with amber and red ratings, respectively.
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