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Nationally representative survey on women's opinions about over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives

Daniel Grossman, Ibis Reproductive Health, 2011
See also executive summary and publication in Contraception.

Project abstract

A growing body of evidence suggests that over-the-counter (OTC) access to oral contraceptives (OCs) is safe and effective. While there is research documenting the acceptability of OTC access for women who choose it, there are no recent, nationally representative data on US women’s interest in OTC access to OCs—particularly to progestin-only pills, the most likely candidate for the first OTC product.

We propose to perform a nationally representative survey of adult women of reproductive age at risk of unintended pregnancy, exploring their interest in and support for OTC access to OCs. We will conduct the survey with Knowledge Networks using their KnowledgePanel, a nationally representative, probability-based online non-volunteer access panel.

Panel members who meet the primary inclusion criteria (females aged 18-44 who speak English or Spanish) will be invited by e-mail to participate in this survey. Respondents will be screened, and eligibility will be limited to women who are at risk of unintended pregnancy for a final sample size of 2,000 participants.

The survey will cover a range of topics, including experienced barriers to accessing contraception, opinions regarding OTC access to OCs generally and to progestin-only pills, likelihood of starting/refilling OCs if they were available OTC or with pharmacist screening, and willingness to pay for OTC OCs. Multivariate logistic regression analyses will be used to estimate the odds of personal interest in obtaining OCs OTC and of general support for OTC availability after adjusting for several sociodemographic factors.

The findings will help assess the demand for OTC access to OCs—especially among women at higher risk of unintended pregnancy. Evidence of significant demand, combined with data on safety and improved continuation in OTC environments, will help convince clinicians, women’s health advocates, policy-makers and the pharmaceutical industry of the importance of increasing access to OCs by removing the prescription requirement.

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