Original research article| Volume 77, ISSUE 3, P181-185, March 2008

Provision of emergency contraception: a pilot study comparing access through pharmacies and clinical settings



      The study was conducted to compare the provision of emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) through pharmacies and clinical services to determine whether aspects of client satisfaction and subsequent sexual health outcomes vary significantly between these services.

      Study Design

      A pilot observational study was conducted in South London. Participants were recruited from pharmacies and clinical services when they presented requesting EHC and met with the researcher to complete a structured questionnaire 4 months later.


      One hundred thirty-three women were enrolled in the study, 50 of whom accessed a community pharmacy for EHC plus 83 women who obtained EHC from a clinical service. Seventy percent of women who went to a pharmacy and 43.9% who went to a clinical service obtained EHC within 24 h (p=.004). A greater proportion of women attending a clinical service felt at least quite comfortable asking for EHC, compared to those who went to a pharmacy (p=.007). Those who obtained EHC from a clinic also felt significantly better informed about both EHC (p=.015) and their future contraceptive options (p=.000), compared to the women who attended a pharmacy.


      This pilot study found that women who went to a pharmacy had more rapid access to EHC compared to those who chose to attend a clinical service. Other aspects of provision and client satisfaction seem to favor attendance at a clinical setting over a pharmacy as a venue for obtaining EHC.


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