Provision of the emergency contraceptive pill without prescription: attitudes and practices of pharmacists in Australia

Contraception. 2011 Feb;83(2):159-66. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2010.07.001. Epub 2010 Aug 11.


Background: As 5 years have elapsed since the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) was made available without prescription in Australia, information was sought about the current attitudes and practices of pharmacists in relation to their increased role in ECP provision.

Study design: A mail survey was implemented; questionnaires were distributed to 750 pharmacies across Australia during 2008-2009. Descriptive statistics were calculated and multiple logistic regression was used to examine factors associated with declining to dispense ECP.

Results: Response rate was 29%. Most pharmacists used a protocol to guide ECP dispensing (77.3%) and the majority had declined ECP provision (75.1%) in certain circumstances. Many usually counselled where confidentiality could be assured (62.8%), and agreed that it is a pharmacist's role to counsel on regular contraception (81.9%). Factors significantly associated (p ≤.05) with dispensing practices included pharmacists' attitudes towards acceptability of advance prescription, their age, gender and pharmacy accessibility.

Conclusions: New information about Australian pharmacists' current attitudes and practices towards ECP dispensing was identified. Pharmacists had stronger, more conservative attitudes than overseas pharmacists; however, the issues that emerged were similar to those reported overseas. To address these, revised training for local pharmacists is recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonprescription Drugs*
  • Pharmacists / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Postcoital
  • Nonprescription Drugs