The role of pharmacists and emergency contraception: Are pharmacists' perceptions of emergency contraception predictive of their dispensing practices?

Contraception. 2012 Oct;86(4):370-5. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.01.014. Epub 2012 Mar 2.


Background: Pharmacists can play a critical role in the access to emergency contraception (EC). We assessed if knowledge and attitudes were predictive of EC dispensing among a statewide sample of Florida pharmacists, who have legal authority to refuse to dispense medications.

Study design: In 2008, surveys were mailed to a random sample of 1264 pharmacists registered with the Florida Board of Pharmacy. Data from 272 pharmacists (22% response rate) were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Fifty-six percent of respondents incorrectly answered that EC causes birth defects, and 46% replied that it causes abortion. Only 22% said that EC can be purchased in advance of need. Many felt uncomfortable dispensing to adolescents (61%) and men (58%). Knowledge about EC was the most important predictor of dispensing [odds ratio (OR)=1.57, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22-2.03]. In particular, pharmacists who reported that EC does not act as an abortifacient were more likely to dispense it (OR=4.64, 95% CI 2.15-10.00).

Conclusions: Correct information about EC was the most important predictor of pharmacists' dispensing EC. To expand availability of EC, pharmacists will have to become better informed.

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Contraception, Postcoital / adverse effects
  • Contraception, Postcoital / ethics
  • Contraception, Postcoital / psychology
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / administration & dosage*
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / adverse effects
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / economics
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility* / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility* / ethics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic* / ethics
  • Pharmacists* / ethics
  • Professional Competence
  • Professional Role*
  • Professional-Patient Relations / ethics
  • Refusal to Treat


  • Abortifacient Agents
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital