Knowledge, provision of information and barriers to high quality medication abortion provision by pharmacists in Uttar Pradesh, India

BMC Health Serv Res. 2019 Jul 11;19(1):476. doi: 10.1186/s12913-019-4318-4.


Background: The use of medication abortion is increasing rapidly in India, the majority of which is purchased through pharmacies. More information is needed about the quality of services provided by pharmacist about medication abortion, especially barriers to providing high quality information. The goal of this study was to explore the quality of pharmacist medication abortion provision using mixed methods to inform the developed of an intervention for this population.

Methods: Data was collected via convenience sampling using three methods: a quantitative survey of pharmacists (N = 283), mystery clients (N = 111), and in-depth qualitative interviews with pharmacist (N = 11). Quality indictors from the quantitative data from surveys and mystery clients were compared. Qualitative interviews were used to elucidate reasons behind findings from the quantitative survey.

Results: Quality of information provided to client purchasing medication abortion was low, especially related to timing and dosing of misoprostol (18% of pharmacists knew correct timing) and side effects (31% not telling any information on side effects). Mystery clients reported lower quality (less correct information) than pharmacists reported about their own behaviors. Qualitative interviews suggested that many barriers exist for pharmacists, including perceptions about what information clients can understand and desire, and also lack of comfort giving certain information to certain types of clients (young women).

Conclusions: It is essential to improve the quality of information given to client purchasing medication abortion from pharmacists. Our findings highlight specific gaps in knowledge and reasons for poor quality information. Differences in guidelines available at that time from the Indian Government, World Health Organization, and the medication abortion boxes may lead to confusion amongst pharmacists and potentially clients. Interventions need to improve both knowledge about medication abortion and also biases in the provision of care.

Keywords: India; Medication abortion; Mixed-methods; Quality of care.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Male
  • Misoprostol / administration & dosage
  • Pharmacists / psychology*
  • Pharmacists / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Misoprostol