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Fam Pract. 2005 Jun;22(3):280-6. Epub 2005 Mar 15.

"Not that sort of practice": the views and behaviour of primary care practitioners in a study of advance provision of emergency contraception.

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Division of Community Health Sciences (General Practice), University of Edinburgh, 20 West Richmond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DX, UK.



Advance supplies of emergency contraception (EC) were made available to women aged 16-29 through general practice and family planning services in Lothian, Scotland. Although this intervention was not associated with an overall reduction in abortion rates in Lothian, it was hypothesized that some general practices may have been more successful than others in promoting and delivering the intervention.


To investigate, using comparative case studies, whether, and why, some general practices were more successful in promoting and delivering advance supplies of EC than others.


Eleven purposively sampled general practices from the 97 participating in the intervention were studied. The number of packs of advance supplies distributed was recorded and distribution rates per 100 eligible women per practice calculated. 44 semi-structured interviews with staff were used to describe the mechanisms through which advance supplies were distributed and health professionals' views of the intervention.


Distribution rates varied from 0.9 to 32.0 per 100 eligible women. Respondents described three mechanisms through which advance supplies were distributed: passive, reactive and proactive. Views about EC, and the suitability of their patient population for advance supplies, varied and configured specific practice contexts that facilitated or hindered the delivery of advance supplies. Favourable views and pro-active mechanisms were associated with higher distribution rates, less favourable or ambivalent views and passive delivery mechanisms with lower distribution rates.


If primary care professionals are to actively engage with a sexual health promotion agenda they need to develop appropriate interpersonal skills and address their values, attitudes and cultural competences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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