How does a Belgian health care provider deal with a request for emergency contraception?

Authors: Peremans, Lieve; Verhoeven, Veronique; Philips, Hilde; Denekens, Joke; Van Royen, Paul

Source: The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, Volume 12, Number 4, 2007 , pp. 317-325(9)

Publisher: Informa Healthcare

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Objective To evaluate how Belgian health care providers deal with a request for emergency contraception. Method In 2002-2003 we conducted 12 focus groups with pharmacists, general practitioners and school physicians. A skilled moderator accompanied by an observer conducted the focus groups using a semi-structured screenplay. Results All these health care providers agree with the free access to emergency contraception (EC), but experience considerable frustration with regard to the practical aspects and the legal framework. General practitioners (GPs) claim to spend a lot of time on requests for EC and they are concerned about the quality of the counselling provided in pharmacies. Pharmacists are creative when giving counselling in the pharmacy, but there is, nevertheless, a problem with a lack of privacy. School physicians are frustrated that there is no legal possibility to respond to a request for EC when they feel they are ideally placed to advise adolescents. Conclusion The over-the-counter sale of EC offers women better access, but many barriers still interfere with optimal care. Pharmacists experience a lack of skills to communicate with adolescents and a lack of privacy to give counselling. GPs have good intentions, but are confronted with a lack of willingness on the part of the patients and also financial barriers. School physicians want more possibilities to help adolescents.

Keywords: Emergency contraception; Focus group; General practice; Pharmacy; School physician

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of General Practice, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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