Association of pharmacist prescription and 12-month contraceptive continuation rates

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Dec;225(6):647.e1-647.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2021.06.089. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Background: States have passed legislation to expand the scope of pharmacists to directly prescribe contraception. It is thought that pharmacist prescription of contraception may promote correct and consistent use of contraception by reducing barriers to access. However, it is not known how this may impact ongoing contraceptive use.

Objective: This study aimed to determine whether 12-month rates of continuation of an effective form of contraception or perfect use of contraception differ by prescribing provider (pharmacist or clinician).

Study design: We conducted a 1-year prospective cohort study of 388 women seeking contraception in 139 pharmacies across 4 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, and Oregon). Our study was powered to detect a 10% difference in 12-month continuation of an effective form of contraception. We clarified women's pregnancy intention at baseline and subsequent follow-ups. Women received a prescription directly from a pharmacist (n=149) or were filling a prescription from a clinician, our comparison group (n=239). We used multivariable logistic regression to measure the association between pharmacist prescriber and use of any effective contraceptive method or perfect use at 12 months. Model covariates included age, race, education, side effects experienced, payor, and contraceptive supply dispensed at baseline.

Results: Of the study cohort, 88% (n=340) completed 12 months of follow-up. Among women not planning to become pregnant, 7 women in the clinic-prescribed group vs 1 woman in the pharmacy-prescribed group (3.4% vs 0.8%; P>.05) reported a positive pregnancy test during the study period. The majority of the cohort was continuing to use an effective method of contraception at 12 months (clinician 89.3% vs pharmacist 90.4%; P=.86). Among women receiving a prescription from a clinician, 53.9% reported perfect use (no missed days) at 12 months, compared with 47% of the pharmacist-prescribed group (P=.69). Pharmacist prescriber type was not associated with continuation of an effective contraceptive method at 12 months (adjusted odds ratio, 0.70; confidence interval, 0.28-1.71) or with perfect use of contraception (adjusted odds ratio, 0.87; confidence interval, 0.51-1.48), controlling for other woman-level characteristics.

Conclusion: We found no difference in use of any effective contraception, perfect use, or switching at 12 months among those who received their baseline prescription from a pharmacist vs a clinician. This study is limited by not examining information on safety outcomes.

Keywords: contraception; contraceptive continuation; hormonal contraception; pharmacists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • California
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorado
  • Contraceptive Agents*
  • Female
  • Hawaii
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Oregon
  • Pharmaceutical Services*
  • Pharmacy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptive Agents