New resources to help pharmacists provide services for contraception and medication abortion
The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) has launched a new collection of resources and awareness campaign to help improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for underserved populations across the country. These new resources are designed to help pharmacists tailor their approach to prescribing contraception and to enhance pharmacists’ knowledge and understanding of medication abortion.
Hear from Tomilola Grant, CPhA’s Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Project Lead, about the project and how pharmacists across Canada can use these resources in their day-to-day practice to better support their communities.
What resources are in the toolkit?
The toolkit is organized into two categories—medication abortion and contraception—and includes resources for both pharmacists and patients . Resources in the toolkit have been designed to easily integrate into practice and include micro-learning videos, an algorithm, infographics, posters, patient handouts, an assessment tool and more.
How did this project come about?
Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve seen pharmacists play an even bigger role in the health of their communities, and we know that people who can get pregnant regularly turn to their pharmacists for support. Last year, CPhA was awarded a federal grant to create new training resources for pharmacists to address barriers to abortion access and increase capacity to prescribe for contraception—a service now available in most provinces.
The project is a partnership with Contraception and Abortion Research Team out of UBC, funded by Health Canada’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund.
How were the resources developed?
A lot of research and information was gathered prior to the development of these resources to ensure that they would be useful to pharmacists and help improve patient care, particularly for underserved populations. We started with an extensive literature review to identify medication abortion equity gaps and socioeconomic barriers. Then we gathered real world input through focus group discussions with BIPOC individuals to understand their requirements for a safe and stigma-free environment. We also gathered pharmacists from across the country for focus group discussions to understand the barriers and facilitators at play in the pharmacy environment. With that information we then targeted the areas where we could have the greatest impact and where gaps existed, developed resources and conducted expert reviews until we arrived at the resource toolkit we have today.
Why are pharmacists well positioned to improve access to SRH services?
With over 11,000 pharmacies across the country, many serving rural and remote communities, pharmacy teams are already providing convenient access to critical sexual and reproductive health services. Over the past several years we have seen that role grow.
Since gaining authority to dispense Mifegymiso in 2017, pharmacists have played an increasing role in providing medication abortion services in our communities. Likewise, 8 provinces now allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception after the authority was recently expanded in Newfoundland and Labrador (April 2023), British Columbia (June 2023) and Prince Edward Island (July 2023).
Despite these developments, there are still significant barriers and gaps in care that need to be addressed to ensure everyone has access to comprehensive reproductive health services across Canada. And these resources we have put together can help pharmacists contribute to closing those gaps.
How should pharmacists use these resources and incorporate them into their practice?
We hope that pharmacists across Canada will explore the toolkit to help create safe and stigma-free spaces for those seeking sexual and reproductive health care. These resources were designed to be easily incorporated into practice, to be accessible and to address the barriers and facilitators pharmacists told us were present in a diverse range of practices.
These resources are also timely, as pharmacists’ role in primary care and contraception prescribing has recently expanded in a number of provinces and pharmacists look to integrate these new services and authorities into their practices.
Over the next weeks and months CPhA will be running a campaign to promote these resources to pharmacists and patients.