Pharmacy Communication to Adolescents and Their Physicians Regarding Access to Emergency Contraception

Wilkinson TA et al. – Most pharmacies report having Emergency contraception (EC) in stock. However, misinformation regarding who can take EC, and at what age it is available without a prescription, is common. Such misinformation may create barriers to timely access.

  • By using standardized scripts, female callers telephoned 943 pharmacies in 5 US cities posing as 17-year-old adolescents or as physicians calling on behalf of their 17-year-old patients.
  • McNemar tests were used to compare outcomes between adolescent and physician callers.

  • Seven hundred fifty-nine pharmacies (80%) indicated to adolescent callers, and 766 (81%) to physician callers, that EC was available on the day of the call.
  • However, 145 pharmacies (19%) incorrectly told the adolescent callers that it would be impossible to obtain EC under any circumstances, compared with 23 pharmacies (3%) for physician callers.
  • Pharmacies conveyed the correct age to dispense EC without a prescription in 431 adolescent calls (57%) and 466 physician calls (61%).
  • Compared with physician callers, adolescent callers were put on hold more often (54% vs 26%) and spoke to self-identified pharmacists less often (3% vs 12%, P < .0001).
  • When EC was not available, 36% and 33% of pharmacies called by adolescents and physicians respectively offered no additional suggestions on how to obtain it.

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