Objective: This study investigated the attitude of Korean physicians toward women's access to emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) and the reclassification of ECP to a behind-the-counter (BTC) drug.
Methods: This study involved 946 physicians who had prescribed ECP in South Korea. The written questionnaires were completed by obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians, internal medicine doctors, and pediatricians.
Results: Regarding the barriers limiting women's access to ECP, 24.8% of physicians responded that women lacked information about ECP and 22.5% felt that women were likely to be emotionally burdened by visits to clinics or hospitals to obtain ECP prescriptions. Ninety-two percent of physicians responded that ECP should remain a prescription drug while 6.1% stated preferences for a switch to a BTC drug. Physicians who opposed the switch were concerned about the potential abuse of ECP. In order to prevent ECP abuse, the most important factor to be considered was education on contraception.
Conclusion: A majority of Korean physicians opposed the reclassification of ECP to a BTC drug owing to their belief in increasing the role of educational initiatives about contraception and contraceptive practices before improving the access to ECP. This study is also of the opinion that contraceptive education for youth and adults in Korea should be more realistic and active, with an emphasis on regular contraception use before reclassification. Furthermore, we believe that efforts are needed to ensure accuracy of information on contraception to facilitate women's access to ECP.
Keywords: Barriers; Emergency contraceptive pill; Rescheduling; Women's access.