Purpose: Young women face numerous obstacles to accessing contraception, including lack of money, time, or transportation to visit a doctor. In addition, concerns about confidentiality deter many adolescents from seeking contraceptive care. Pharmacists in Washington, D.C. will soon be able to prescribe hormonal birth control, which can potentially increase contraceptive access for adolescents. This study explores the needs and concerns of teens and young women residing in Washington, D.C. to inform implementation of this service.
Methods: In this community-based participatory research study, four focus group discussions were conducted in February 2017, two with teen females aged 14e17 years and two with young women aged 18e24 years. A youth advisory council, comprising 13 women aged 16e22 years living in Washington, D.C., helped develop the discussion guide and interpret findings. Data were analyzed thematically by age group using inductive and deductive codes.
Results: Young people viewed pharmacies as convenientlocations to access contraceptives but expressed concerns about privacy, affordability, and pharmacist approachability. Younger participants viewed these concerns as significant barriers for their peers. Participants suggested pharmacies protect privacy and confidentiality by offering private consultation spaces and clear information about what insurance plans can disclose to parents. Participants also recommended pharmacies create a youth-friendly, nonjudgmental environment and offer pharmacists training on contraceptive counseling for young women.
Conclusions: Addressing concerns about privacy, costs, and pharmacist approachability can help ensure thatyouthseekingcontraceptivescaneasilyaccess theirpreferredmethod.Pharmaciesshouldcontinuously incorporateyoungpeople’s feedback toensure thisservice remainsaccessibleandacceptable toadolescents.
This study takes a community-based participatory research approach to understanding the viewpoints of young people by incorporating youth leadership into the study’s design and implementation. A youth advisory council was assembled to guide the development of study questions, assist with focus group recruitment, and help interpret findings. To be eligible for the youth advisory council, participants had to be female; aged 16e22 years; interested in improving access to birth control; and residing, attending school, or working in Washington, D.C. Women were recruited through outreach to local youth-serving organizations, which were identified through an Internet search and recommendations by authors’ colleagues. Study staff interviewed women on a first-come, first-served basis until the desired number of participants was reached. The youth advisory council met once a week for five weeks to learn about contraceptive methods and barriers young people face in accessing them; understand pharmacist provision of contraceptive methods; identify issues and questions important to young people interested in accessing this service; provide guidance on the creation of a focus group discussion guide; and advise study staff on effective means of recruiting young people to participate in focus group discussions. The council met again after all focus group discussions had been conducted to review the data and provide input in the interpretation of findings. Four focus group discussions were conducted in Washington, D.C. in February of 2017, two with female teens aged 14e17 years and two with young women aged 18e24 years. Participants were recruited through outreach to local school counselors and the same local organizations used to recruit members of the youth advisory council; word-of-mouth by youth advisory council members; and by flyers posted around George Washington University, the Columbia Heights shopping area, and other public locations frequented by young people. To be eligible, participants had to be female; aged 14e24 years; living, working, or attending school in Washington, D.C.; and interested in participating in a study about access to birth control.