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Improving uptake of the copper intrauterine device for emergency contraception by educating pharmacists in the community

Abstract

Objectives The copper intrauterine device (Cu-IUD) is the most effective method of emergency contraception (EC) and provides ongoing contraception, yet few women choose this option. This study evaluates the impact of an educational initiative involving pharmacists on uptake of Cu-IUDs for EC in an integrated sexual health clinic in the North East of England.

Methods Since November 2010, local pharmacists have received intensive education detailing EC options including Cu-IUDs. At the same time a rapid access referral pathway for fitting of an emergency Cu-IUD was established. The impact of this initiative has been assessed by analysing case notes of women attending a large city centre sexual health service who received an emergency Cu-IUD during September and October 2010 (prior to the initiative) and the same 2 months in 2011 (9 months after the start of the intervention).

Results The number of women fitted with an emergency Cu-IUD increased by almost three-fold from 11 fitted in September and October 2010 to 30 fitted in these 2 months in 2011. One woman was referred from a pharmacist to the service in the first audit period compared with 17 in the second. No pregnancies occurred in the first month after Cu-IUD insertion in these 41 women.

Conclusions Educating pharmacists has increased referral and uptake of Cu-IUD used for EC and this has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies now and in the future.

  • emergency contraception
  • intrauterine devices
  • pharmacist
  • education and training

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