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Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2014 Aug;19(4):259-65. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2014.913787. Epub 2014 May 28.

Effect of changes to cost and availability of emergency contraception on users' profiles in an emergency department in Catalunya.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau , Barcelona , Spain.



Emergency contraception (EC) accessibility has evolved differently in Catalunya as compared with other autonomous communities in Spain. Free-of-charge access within the Public Health System was authorised in 2004, and over-the-counter (OTC) access was implemented in 2009. The aim of the study is to assess the impact of these measures on demand and users' profiles at our institution.


A retrospective study, in our Emergency Department, was conducted to evaluate EC requests in relationship to accessibility modifications. The age of women and which days of the week they attended were analysed.


The number of EC requests, the distribution by age and the demand over the week remained stable after access to EC became free of charge. However, requests sharply decreased following OTC access implementation. Distribution by age also changed, with a significant increase in requests from women under 25 years (72% vs 56%, p < 0.001). Demand was greatest on Sunday and Monday, and this distribution persisted over the study period.


EC requests remained unchanged following free-of-charge access to EC, but decreased after OTC implementation. Women currently seeking EC at no cost at our institution are more likely to be younger and to request it on a Monday.


Accessibility; Availability; Contraceptive use; Emergency contraception; Levonorgestrel; Over-the-counter

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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