June 2010

Clinic versus over-the-counter access to oral contraception: Choices women make along the US-Mexico border

Potter J, White K, Hopkins K, Amastae J, Grossman D.  Clinic versus over-the-counter access to oral contraception: Choices women make along the US-Mexico border. American Journal of Public Health. June 2010; 100(6):1130-1136.

OBJECTIVES: As part of the Border Contraceptive Access Study, we interviewed oral contraceptive (OC) users living in El Paso, Texas, to assess motivations for patronizing a US clinic or a Mexican pharmacy with over-the-counter (OTC) pills and to determine which women were likely to use the OTC option.

METHODS:  We surveyed 532 clinic users and 514 pharmacy users about background characteristics, motivations for choosing their OC source, and satisfaction with this source.

RESULTS: Older women and women born and educated in Mexico were more likely to patronize pharmacies. Cost of pills was the main motivation for choosing their source for 40% of pharmacy users and 23% of clinic users. The main advantage cited by 49% of clinic users was availability of other health services. Bypassing the requirement to obtain a doctor's prescription was most important for 27% of pharmacy users. Both groups were very satisfied with their pill source.

CONCLUSIONS: Women of different ages, parities, and educational levels would likely take advantage of an OTC option were OCs available at low cost. Improving clinic provision of OCs should be considered.