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Users' views of new providers of emergency contraception: a qualitative study

  • Marjorie C. Weiss (a1), Rachel Locke (a2) and Anna Graham (a2)

Objectives: To explore users' views on increased availability of emergency contraception (EC) from two new providers of EC. Context: EC was previously available from general practitioners (GPs), Family Planning Centres, Accident and Emergency Departments and Brooke Advisory Centres. Recently, EC has also become available from pharmacies and Walk-in Centres (WiCs). Design: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews. Setting and Participants: Twenty-nine women from two (WiCs) and two pharmacies in Avon. Results: Women selected their provider on the basis of convenience and accessibility. WiC users valued the advice and personal nature of the contact with WiC nurses. Women who accessed EC from a pharmacy were amenable to answering questions to obtain EC but did not see this as a time to receive contraceptive advice. Women's attitudes to pharmacy supply of EC may be related to its associations as a place of business. Phrases such as over-the-counter may reinforce this notion, reflecting the business-like nature of the questioning and the impersonal nature of the interaction. While women considered the increased availability of EC to be generally positive, some had concerns about younger women accessing EC, particularly from a pharmacy. Conclusions: Women had a favourable view of their provider of EC, whether from a pharmacy or WiC. Concerns about pharmacy access may be related to its associations as a place of business where consumers have more power in the encounter. For some, this type of ‘easier’ access was considered inappropriate for younger users.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr Marjorie C. Weiss, Senior Lecturer, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK. Email:
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
  • URL: /core/journals/primary-health-care-research-and-development
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