PURPOSE: To study how SART-member fertility clinics communicated via clinic websites during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic following publication of ASRM COVID-19 Task Force recommendations .
METHODS: SART-member fertility clinic websites were systematically surveyed for the presence of an REI-specific COVID-19 message (REI-CM) and analyzed for their adherence to ASRM guidance .
RESULTS: Of the 381 active clinic websites , 249 (65.3 %) had REI-specific COVID messaging . The presence of REI-CM was more common in private than in academic practices (73% vs 38%, p <0.001) and with increasing practice volume : 38% of clinics with <200 annual cycles vs 91% of clinics with> 1000 cycles (p <0.001). Adherence to ASRM guidance was more common in academic than in private practices (54% vs 31%, p = 0.02). Additionally , 9% of REI-CM (n = 23) announced continued treatment regardless of a patient's clinical urgency . This messaging was more common in groups doing> 1000 cycles a year (18%, p = 0.009). Clinics treating all-comers were less likely to cite ASRM than other clinics (41% vs 62%, p = 0.045). However , 75% (n = 14) cited COVID-19 guidance from WHO, CDC, and state and local governments .
CONCLUSIONS: Clinic response to ASRM recommendations during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic was heterogeneous . Although academic practices were more likely to follow ASRM guidance, there was a lower extent of patient-facing messaging among academic practices than private clinics . In event of further escalations of this and future pandemics, clinics can learn from experiences to provide clear messaging to patients.