In an effort to increase access to contraception, the pharmacist scope of practice is being expanded to allow prescribing. While this is being accomplished in the United States by a variety of models, legislation that allows pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception under a statewide protocol is the most common. This study was designed to explore the outlooks of pharmacists regarding prescribing contraception in the period following the first state legislation and prior to statewide protocol development and availability. A qualitative study of community pharmacists in California using structured phone interviews explored their opinions regarding access to contraception in pharmacies and outlooks regarding prescribing. Data were analyzed using an inductive approach to identify themes. Among the thirty participants, the majority worked in a chain pharmacy. Themes were identified in five overarching domains: Pharmacist barriers, system barriers, patient issues, safety concerns, and pharmacist role. Most were unfamiliar with the new law, yet were interested in expanding access for patient benefit despite foreseeing challenges with implementing the service in community pharmacies. Barriers will need to be addressed and requisite training disseminated widely to facilitate successful implementation and thus improve access on a broad scale. Further research following protocol implementation is needed to understand service implementation, as well as patient utilization and satisfaction.
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