January 2020

Pharmacists’ perspectives on prescribing hormonal contraception in Washington, DC, with a focus on young people

Wollum A, Zuniga C, Katcher T, Daftary M, Grindlay K. Pharmacists’ perspectives on prescribing hormonal contraception in Washington, DC, with a focus on young people. Journal of American Pharmacists Association. January 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2019.12.006 1

Objective: To assess pharmacists’ interest, comfort level, training needs, and barriers to prescribing hormonal contraceptives, particularly in the context of serving young people in Washington, DC.

Design: In this mixed-methods study, we conducted a focus group discussion with pharmacists in February 2017, which was analyzed thematically using inductive and deductive coding. In January 2018 to June 2018, we conducted a survey with pharmacists, which was analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Setting and participants: Community and outpatient pharmacists in Washington, DC. Outcomes measures: Pharmacists’ interest and comfort level to begin prescribing hormonal contraception, particularly in the context of serving young people.

Results: A total of 6 pharmacists participated in the focus group discussion, and 82 pharmacists participated in the online survey. In the survey, 59% of pharmacists were interested in prescribing hormonal contraception as independent practitioners and 63% through collaborative practice agreements; focus group participants believed that other pharmacists might be less likely to participate. In addition, focus group and survey respondents reported high levels of comfort with activities related to prescribing hormonal contraception, including 96% of survey participants reporting comfort taking blood pressure and 93% reporting comfort counseling young women on hormonal contraceptive methods. Only 25% of pharmacists reported having a private consultation space that provided both visual and auditory privacy. To ensure that pharmacies were ready to implement this service, pharmacists identified multiple concerns that needed to be addressed, including workload, liability issues, compensation, and a need for additional training on hormonal contraceptive methods, and how to counsel young people on them.

Conclusion: Pharmacists in Washington, DC, are interested in and comfortable with activities related to prescribing hormonal contraception, including to young people. However, to become ready to offer these services, pharmacists desire additional training, and pharmacies need to ensure confidentiality for young people and address pharmacists’ concerns about workload, liability, and compensation.