Objective: Despite the controversy over expanding delivery options for emergency contraceptive pills (ECP), little is known about physicians' attitudes toward over-the-counter (OTC) provision of ECP, and prior research on physicians' practices often has focused on a single specialty. This study examined the attitudes and practices regarding advance provision and OTC status of ECP among physicians in five medical specialties likely to encounter patients in need of ECP. Methods: A mail survey of a random sample of 850 Michigan physicians in family/general medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, and emergency medicine was conducted. Respondents' ECP-related attitudes and practices were assessed, and differences by physician characteristics were examined using chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression analyses. Results: Two hundred seventy-one physicians responded to the survey (response rate = 32%), with 42% of them favoring OTC provision of ECP and 40% opposing it. Half of respondents never routinely initiated discussions about ECP with their sexually active, female patients, and 77% of respondents did not routinely offer advance prescriptions. After adjusting for other factors, including medical specialty, older physicians (≥50 years) were significantly more likely than their younger counterparts to support OTC provision of ECP (OR = 2.9, 95% CI 1.7-4.9) or offer advance prescriptions (OR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.1-5.8). Physicians with a specialty in obstetrics/gynecology were 3.5 times (95% CI 1.3-9.8) as likely as physicians in family/general medicine to offer advance prescriptions for ECP, and female physicians were 2.5 (95% CI 1.05-6.0) times as likely as male physicians to offer advance prescriptions. Graduation from a medical school within the United States and practicing in a private practice were marginally associated with a lower likelihood of supporting OTC status of ECP (OR = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2-1.0; and OR = 0.6, 95% CI 0.3-1.1, respectively). Conclusions: Certain physician characteristics were significantly associated with their ECP-related attitudes and practices. The majority of physicians surveyed in this study did not offer advance prescriptions for ECP, and few had initiated discussions on ECP with patients, which may pose critical barriers to patients' timely access.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't