Introduction Reduced funding to contraceptive services in the UK is resulting in restricted access for women. Pharmacists are already embedded in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care in the UK and could provide an alternative way for women to access contraception. The aim of this study was to determine the views of UK contraception providers about community pharmacist-led contraception provision.
Methods An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to healthcare professionals at two UK SRH events, asking respondents about: (1) the use of patient group directions (PGDs) for pharmacist provision of oral contraception (OC); (2) the sale of OC as a pharmacy medicine or general sales list medicine; (3) the perceived impact of pharmacy provision of OC on broader SRH outcomes; and (4) if other contraceptive methods should be provided in pharmacies.
Results Of 240 questionnaires distributed, 174 (72.5%) were returned. Respondents largely supported pharmacy-led provision of all non-uterine methods of contraception, excluding the contraceptive implant. Provision of the progestogen-only pill by PGD was most strongly supported (78% supported initiation). Respondents felt that the use of bridging (temporary) contraception would improve (103/144, 71.5%), use of effective contraception would increase (81/141, 57.4%), and unintended pregnancies would decline (71/130, 54.6%); but that use of long-acting reversible contraception would decrease (86/143, 60.1%). Perceived barriers included pharmacists’ capacity and competency to provide a full contraception consultation, safeguarding concerns, and women having to pay for contraception.
Conclusions UK SRH providers were largely supportive of community pharmacy-led provision of contraception, with training and referral pathways being required to support contraception delivery by pharmacists.
- access to contraception
- contraception service provision
- community pharmacy
- hormonal contraception
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Contributors All authors contributed to the development of the research idea and questionnaire. KB and ZEC collected and analysed the data. All authors contributed to the preparation and review of the manuscript.
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 None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required
Ethics approval Formal ethics approval was not sought. Permissions to conduct the research was granted by the event organisers (FSRH and NHS Lothian).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Additional unpublished data from this study are unavailable as these may identify participants.
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