141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

Opinions on over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives among reproductive justice and reproductive health advocates

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Kate Grindlay, MSPH , Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA
Daniel Grossman, MD , Ibis Reproductive Health, Oakland, CA
There is growing support among stakeholders for over-the-counter (OTC) access to oral contraceptives (OCs) in the U.S., including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Reproductive health advocates will play an important role in an OTC switch for OCs, as they have for emergency contraception, by ensuring women's views—especially those who face the most barriers accessing contraception—are heard. This study aimed to explore advocates' views regarding OTC access to OCs.

From July-October 2011, we conducted an online survey with reproductive justice and reproductive health advocates on their opinions of current access and barriers to contraception and the potential impacts of an OTC OC for low-income women, young women, and women of color.

780 respondents completed the survey. Participants cited barriers to contraceptive use including the expense of a provider visit, contraceptive supplies, and travel; stigma; and inadequate health education. 86% of advocates were strongly or somewhat in favor of OCs being available OTC, and a similar proportion stated women would be more likely to use OCs if available OTC. Many noted the benefits of OTC access—time and financial savings for women, greater access, and reduced unintended pregnancy—would be contingent on affordability. Additional concerns related to accessing information on correct use and STI prevention, and whether women would seek preventive health screenings.

Overall, support for OTC access among advocates was high but highlights the need for an OTC pill to be affordable and accompanied by user-friendly information in order to benefit low-income women, young women, and women of color.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the research to date on the safety and effectiveness of OTC provision of OCs. Describe the views of reproductive health and reproductive justice advocates toward OTC access to OCs. Discuss implications of study findings for a future OTC OC.

Keywords: Contraception, Service Delivery

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a co-investigator on multiple studies exploring over-the-counter access to oral contraception.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.