July 2019

Youth perspectives on pharmacists’ provision of birth control: Findings from a focus group study

Zuniga C, Wollum A, Katcher T, Grindlay K. Youth perspectives on pharmacists’ provision of birth control: Findings from a focus group study. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.05.013

Purpose: Young women face numerous obstacles to accessing contraception, including lack of money, time, or transportation to visit a doctor. In addition, concerns about confidentiality deter many adolescents from seeking contraceptive care. Pharmacists in Washington, D.C. will soon be able to prescribe hormonal birth control, which can potentially increase contraceptive access for adolescents. This study explores the needs and concerns of teens and young women residing in Washington, D.C. to inform implementation of this service.

Methods: In this community-based participatory research study, four focus group discussions were conducted in February 2017, two with teen females aged 14-17 years and two with young women aged 18-24 years. A youth advisory council, comprising 13 women aged 16-22 years living in Washington, D.C., helped develop the discussion guide and interpret findings. Data were analyzed thematically by age group using inductive and deductive codes.

Results: Young people viewed pharmacies as convenientlocations to access contraceptives but expressed concerns about privacy, affordability, and pharmacist approachability. Younger participants viewed these concerns as significant barriers for their peers. Participants suggested pharmacies protect privacy and confidentiality by offering private consultation spaces and clear information about what insurance plans can disclose to parents. Participants also recommended pharmacies create a youth-friendly, nonjudgmental environment and offer pharmacists training on contraceptive counseling for young women.

Conclusions: Addressing concerns about privacy, costs, and pharmacist approachability can help ensure that youth seeking contraceptives can easily access their preferred method. Pharmacies should continuously incorporate young people’s feedback to ensure this service remains accessible and acceptable to adolescents.