Older teen attitudes toward birth control access in pharmacies: a qualitative study

Contraception. 2018 Mar;97(3):249-255. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2017.11.008. Epub 2017 Dec 7.


Objectives: To examine adolescent attitudes toward accessing contraception through a new pharmacist prescribing model in the State of California.

Study design: In-depth telephone interviews were conducted in summer 2015 with 30 females ages 18 to 19 in California. Participants were recruited using a social media advertisement. Semi-structured interviews utilized open-ended questions to understand teens' experiences with pharmacies, experiences obtaining contraception, and views on pharmacist prescribing of contraception. Responses were transcribed and qualitatively analyzed using an independent-coder method to identify salient themes.

Results: Participants were ethnically diverse and primarily living in suburban areas. All participants had completed high school and many had completed one year of college. Nearly all participants were supportive of California's new law allowing pharmacist prescribing of contraception. Thematic analyses revealed that while participants were satisfied with traditional service providers and valued those relationships, they appreciated the benefit of increased access and convenience of going directly to a pharmacy. Participants expected increased access to contraception in pharmacies would lead to both personal and societal benefits. They expressed concerns regarding parental involvement, as well as confidentiality in the pharmacy environment and with insurance disclosures.

Conclusion: Older teens in California are very supportive of pharmacies and pharmacists as direct access points for contraception, but confidentiality concerns were noted. Policy makers and pharmacies can incorporate study findings when designing policies, services, and physical pharmacy spaces to better serve teens. Further research is warranted after pharmacies implement this new service to assess teen utilization and satisfaction as well as outcomes.

Implication statement: Several states recently passed legislation enabling pharmacists to prescribe contraception and other states are considering similar legislation. Older teens are interested in this additional method of contraceptive access and understanding their perspectives can help guide implementation by states and in individual pharmacies.

Keywords: Adolescents; Direct pharmacy access; Hormonal contraception; Pharmacist prescribing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • California
  • Contraception / psychology*
  • Contraception Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Services*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Young Adult