Stretching the boundaries: Tanzanian pharmacy workers' views and experiences of providing STI services for men who have sex with men

Markus Larsson, Karen Odberg Pettersson, John Kashiha, Michael W. Ross, Anette Agardh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore the views and experiences of providing assistance and treatment of sexually transmitted infections to same-sex practicing male clients among service providers at pharmacies and drugstores in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Previous research suggests that sexually transmitted infections are an increasing concern for this population. Due to stigma and discrimination, men who have sex with men face limited access to treatment, which might contribute to increased self-medication. However, limited research has been conducted on the role of the pharmaceutical service provider with regards to this population in sub-Saharan Africa. Method: In January 2016, 16 service providers at private pharmacies and drugstores with previous experience of providing services to this population were purposively selected for open-ended face-to-face interviews. The analysis was guided by the grounded theory approach. Results: The process that emerged was labelled "Stretching Boundaries for Pharmaceutical Responsibilities". This reflected informants' perceptions of themselves as being involved in a transition from having limited engagement in the care of same-sex practicing male clients to becoming regular service-providers to this group. Findings further revealed that the emotional commitment they developed for clients through this process led to a transgression of provider-client boundaries, which undermined objective decision-making when clients lacked prescription. Financial interests also emerged as an underlying motivation for providing incomplete or inaccurate drug dosages. Conclusions: Further studies are required to better address incentives related to unregulated sale of drugs. Inter-professional networks between pharmacy and healthcare workers could support the development of targeted treatment for men who have sex with men and other key populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0166019
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Larsson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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