Saturday, July 16, 2005

Study on Emergency Contraception in BMJ

BMJ published a study this week that presents the results of a survey of British women on their use of contraceptives. In particular, it looks at whether emergency contraception use went up after it was made an over-the-counter drug in 2001. Women were asked about the types of contraception they used, and where they obtained it. The rates of use before and after EC became available without a prescription were very similar. 91.6% of women said they didn't use EC in 2000, vs. 92.2% and 92.8% in 2001 and 2002. The authors suggest that this detracts from the argument that over-the-counter availability would increase the use of emergency contraception. The biggest change they say was in where women obtained EC, with more women getting it from pharmacies in 2002, although most (48.8%) still went through their general practitioner.

One thing of note is that this study's results are based on women's responses to a survey. The results may be somewhat inaccurate, as the authors rely on this self-reporting. A more accurate study might result from tracking how much EC was actually dispensed and where, although that might not give you the individual usage counts. It also only looked at women over 16; in the U.S. a big part of the debate has been about whether younger women will use the drug.

Get the abstract of the article
The full text of the article can also be downloaded for free (as a PDF).
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