Pharmacist Contraceptive Counseling, Education Can Reduce Access Inequities

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Access to counseling and education were strong predictors of being dispensed contraceptives.

As inequities in contraceptive access persist and direct pharmacy access to contraceptives grows, pharmacists must implement strategic outreach and communication initiatives to reach the diverse population of women seeking this care.

Oral contraceptive pill strips / stas_malyarevsky - stock.adobe.com

Oral contraceptive pill strips / stas_malyarevsky - stock.adobe.com

This is according to a poster presented at the American Pharmacists Association 2024 Annual Meeting and Exposition, held March 22 to 25, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.1

Counseling and access to contraceptives vary widely based on education level, race, ethnicity, and health insurance. Community pharmacists can currently prescribe contraceptives in 26 states and Washington, DC. Therefore, the researchers sought to identify which groups of women community pharmacists should target with outreach when offering contraceptive counseling and prescribing.

Data were collected from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component consolidated data file and prescribed medicines file for 2020. The study sample included women aged 18 to 49 years who answered questions around marital status, education level, race, ethnicity, insurance status, their health care provider’s race, and if they had received contraceptive counseling from their primary care provider in the past 12 months.

READ MORE: HHS Issues Reminder to Health Plans: Provide Contraceptive Coverage

The study sample included a total of 1093 women of reproductive age, 270 of whom received contraceptive counseling. Within that group, 37.4% were dispensed contraceptives. The researchers found that women aged 38 to 49 years and women insured through Medicaid were less likely to receive counseling around contraceptives.

Both counseling and education level were strong predictors of being dispensed contraceptives, while race, ethnicity, marital status, and Medicaid insurance were negatively associated with being dispensed contraceptives.

“Pharmacists should view the growing implementation of direct pharmacy access policies for contraceptives as an opportunity to provide contraceptive care to women who are often left out of the current health care system with regards to contraceptive access,” the researchers concluded.

Future research should focus on determining how pharmacies and pharmacists can develop communication and marketing strategies to inform women in a way that is both welcoming and inclusive.

Read more of our coverage from the 2024 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition here.

Reference
1. Abrams LM, Look KA. Community pharmacists and improving contraception access: relationships between contraceptives counseling and dispensing contraceptives. Presented at: American Pharmacists Association 2024 Annual Meeting and Exposition; March 22-25, 2024; Orlando, FL. Poster 1354.
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