Providing women with advanced supplies of the morning after pill does not reduce the abortion rate.
The researcher who made this finding described her study at a Social Dimensions of Health Institute seminar today (Friday 3rd December).
Speaking at the seminar in Dundee – SDHI is a joint initiative between the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews – Dr Sally Wyke said that “enthusiasm for distributing advanced supplies of emergency contraception may be misplaced as a strategy to reduce unintended pregnancy in the UK. More radical solutions to getting it to the women who need and want it will have to be found.”
Dr Wyke and colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford also discovered that giving people advanced emergency contraception improved the service for women already accessing contraceptive services but has had no effect on women who were not using family planning services. But women who got it were pleased to have it and used it safely and effectively.
The project took place in Lothian where nearly 18,000 women aged 16- 29 were given five packs of emergency contraception to keep at home. Over 4,500 women gave at least one course to a friend and 45% of the women used at least one of the courses themselves over the 28-month course of the study.
Health workers reported that women rarely asked for advance supplies of emergency contraception and women explained their reluctance because of embarrassment and concern about being judged by health professionals as morally inadequate.
Sally is Director of the Scottish School of Primary Care, soon to be the Director of the Central and North Scotland Research Alliance to enhance self-care.
Sally will advise health professionals at the seminar that: ” If advance supply of emergency contraception is to be successful in reducing abortion rates, professionals must address their concerns about emergency contraception and develop imaginative ways of encouraging women most at risk of unwanted pregnancy to take supplies home.”
SDHI’s research remit is to address the social, economic and cultural factors underpinning the health of the public, health inequalities, access disparities and the abiding presence of preventable disease. The Institute is also concerned to explore the nature of services set up to deal with health problems, and is particularly interested in how service design interacts with client need.”
Contact Sally Wyke 0131 651 4008 (direct line) or 0131 651 4009 (office)Research