Objectives: New Mexico is a large rural state with high rates of unintended pregnancy and limited access to contraception. In 2017, the New Mexico Pharmacist Prescriptive Authority Act was amended to allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception. We explored pharmacist perspectives on prescribing hormonal contraceptives, including perceived barriers and facilitators to implementation in rural New Mexico and opinions on over-the-counter (OTC) access, and prescribing and inserting subdermal contraceptive implants.
Methods: This qualitative study recruited rural pharmacists using contact information from the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy and at a state-level pharmacist conference. We conducted semistructured telephone interviews with pharmacists focusing on benefits and concerns about prescribing hormonal contraception, resources required, perspectives on OTC access, and interest in prescribing and placing contraceptive implants. Deidentified transcribed interviews were analyzed by 2 independent coders for emerging themes.
Results: From November 2017 to January 2018, we recruited 25 rural pharmacists and conducted 21 interviews. The majority of participants were male (71%), aged over 60 years (43%), and in practice for over 20 years (52%). Interviewees were mostly positive about prescribing hormonal contraception citing community benefits. The top 3 perceived barriers were training needs, reimbursement, and liability. The top 3 facilitators were the availability of private areas within pharmacies, pharmacists' role as knowledgeable health care team members, and pharmacist accessibility without appointments. Most pharmacists did not support OTC access to hormonal contraception, and over half were interested in certification to prescribe and place subdermal contraceptive implants.
Conclusion: New Mexico pharmacists identified community benefits of pharmacy access to hormonal contraception and were interested in training. Several barriers must be addressed to realize the potential of this practice expansion.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03230578.
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