Emergency Self Care

It’s that time again… (I’m not talking about Christmas season) we’re kicking off the next MVP (or next phase of our service for the non-designers among you). We’re now on phase 3 - designing an experience for our users to order emergency contraceptive (EC) pills and be offered chlamydia treatment through SH:24.

Today is the last day of Self-Care Week, so what better time to blog on this week's focus group to discover how our users might want to experience these two remote services that are all about managing your own reproductive and sexual health? On Monday night I invited 6 ladies to join me for drinks, nibbles and discussion at SH:24 HQ.

I had two aims:

Gauge expectations - what do users expect to be asked and expect to experience? and; Why?

Get some reactions and feedback - on the initial wireframes (rough layouts of pages and information) and follow up text messages Chris and I had pulled together the week before.

I asked everyone to write on post-it notes, questions they would expect to be asked during the online order process. Then as a group we discussed why.

I wanted the group to be able to reflect on past experiences, on hearsay or use their imaginations (if they had not accessed EC services before). We were beginning blank: rather than start with my thoughts, I wanted to be led from theirs.

Three key insights from this exercise:

The group all expected to be asked about current use of contraception. They would also expect to then be given information about contraceptive options they could use to avoid needing EC in future, particularly long term methods.

“If you could give me some tailored advice after the answers I give, to give me a kick up the bum - yeah that would be good, I’m shit with my pill.”

“mmm…the more info the better.”

Most of the group were surprised to learn that the non-hormonal coil (IUD) is an emergency contraceptive option - a couple knew it was an option but did not know exactly how and when it could be used. Information on this was well received and all agreed the IUD should be shown as an option and SH:24 could tell them more about where to get it, how it works etc

“..that would be great, particularly if someone is, like me... already considering a coil, this could help me decide.”

Almost everyone thought they would be asked if they had taken EC before, a couple wrote ‘how many times in the past 12 months’. It was assumed this would then trigger some further information or advice about other methods of contraception.

A couple of women thought it was a good question to have as it could prompt them again to consider using contraception rather than using the EC pill repeatedly. Whilst others said they’d probably just lie to ensure their order was processed.

In the second half of the session we ran through the order process step-by-step. I held up a printed version of the prototype EC order form and asked for comments, reactions and suggestions.

From these conversations we can build an understanding of what seems logical and straightforward and what might be considered as illogical, i.e. a barrier - it’s the barriers, or drop-off points during the process that we can learn the most from.

Three key insights from this discussion were:

The group agreed they would appreciate SH:24 calculating which EC pill they should take (there are two, one you can take within 3 days and one within 5 days of unprotected sex). They wouldn’t want the responsibility of trying to make sense of it all and make a decision. This could create a fear of getting it wrong.

When being asked about allergies to components of the pills - there was some anxiety about not being sure, or not knowing - so there was a demand for more contextual info e.g where else does that ingredient exist.


of last period

 There was a little silence when I asked if the group could remember when their last period started…

“How accurate does this answer have to be? I might not remember fully, but I could guess to like within three days?”

of first unprotected sex since last period.

There were many queries around how to answer this correctly.

“What if it was more of a session, what date do I give, the first time?” “What if I am worried about some other sex that is not the ‘first time’ - which the question states?”

Insights we gained Monday and in our upcoming user engagement sessions will inform:

  • how we compose each question
  • in which order they appear and
  • how we enable the user to answer
  • how we compose the follow up text messages and supporting information that sits alongside each question.

We know from user engagement from when we developed our STI test service, that people want to know why they are being asked something and what is going to happen to the data they enter in the order form. But they also didn’t want lots of information, and they didn't want any advice unless they had a positive result. We could have assumed the same principles apply here - however, we are learning that is not the case...

 “The more info on this stuff [contraception options] the better, if it could be given at the end, and narrowed or tailored that would be even better.”

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