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Womens Health Issues. 2009 Nov-Dec;19(6):373-80. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2009.07.010. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

Exploring emergency contraception knowledge among Florida pharmacy school students: a preliminary assessment.

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Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.



The United States leads all industrialized nations in unintended pregnancies. Many unintended pregnancies could be avoided through the use of emergency contraception (EC), a hormonal contraceptive that is highly effective if taken up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse. Pharmacists play a critical role in the ability of women to obtain EC, either over-the-counter or by prescription. This study assessed if U.S. pharmacy schools report teaching about EC in pharmacy school classes and how pharmacy students in Florida report learning about EC.


This study employed a mixed methods study design: a questionnaire was sent to the 91 deans of accredited pharmacy schools in the United States and focus groups were conducted with Florida pharmacy school students at the four accredited schools of pharmacy in Florida.


Findings reported between the two phases of the study were discordant: All schools reported teaching EC content, whereas most students reported learning about EC outside of their classes. Knowledge that students have about EC does not seem to be adequate. Pharmacy students have preconceived biases or judgments about people who use EC and reported being hesitant about dispensing the medication.


This preliminary analysis revealed that pharmacy schools report to be teaching about EC in their pharmacy schools classes, but pharmacy school students may not feel well enough informed to dispense EC. Future research in understanding the complex process of how education can impact professional beliefs and practice is critical.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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