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Contraception. 2010 Dec;82(6):538-42. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2010.05.008. Epub 2010 Jul 22.

Community pharmacists providing emergency contraception give little advice about future contraceptive use: a mystery shopper study.

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NHS Lothian Family Planning and Well Woman Services, 18 Dean Terrace, Edinburgh, EH4 1NL Scotland, UK.



UK women increasingly prefer to attend a pharmacy for emergency contraception (EC) rather than a doctor. Most women who use EC do not conceive and remain at risk of pregnancy unless they start regular contraception. We undertook a study to evaluate the quality of service provision in community pharmacies in Lothian, Scotland, and to determine what advice is given about contraception after EC use.


Mystery shopper study.


EC was unobtainable from 5/40 pharmacies (12.5%), refused because of "contraindications" in 7 (17.5%) and offered in 28 (70%). Most pharmacists appeared nonjudgemental, over 75% asked appropriate questions about eligibility, and over 90% gave appropriate advice about use. EC was universally refused beyond 72 h after sex but universally provided when the date of the last menstrual period was uncertain. Ongoing contraception after EC use was discussed in only 32.5% of all pharmacies and only 43% of those issuing EC.


The quality of consultations for EC in pharmacies is generally good but only a minority discuss ongoing contraception after EC use. The implications for contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy rates are worrying.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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