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Soc Sci Med. 2003 Dec;57(12):2367-78.

Supplying emergency contraception via community pharmacies in the UK: reflections on the experiences of users and providers.

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  • 1The Pharmacy School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.


This paper discusses findings from an evaluation of a scheme to provide free emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) via community pharmacies in the North-West of England. Drawing on interview data with pharmacists taking part in the scheme and focus groups with users, we tentatively suggest that the scheme was largely well received. The benefits of the service, cited by both pharmacists and users, included enhanced access to EHC, at times when it was needed, and at no cost to the user. In particular, users noted a welcome absence of judgmental attitudes when accessing the service. Pharmacists too were positive about the service, not least because they believed that it conferred enhanced professional status. However, both users and pharmacists had a number of major concerns about the schemes, centring on the potential for misuse, changes in contraceptive behaviour and the impact on sexually transmitted infections. We conclude that more research is needed to explore these issues.

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