National Partnership for Women & Families

Monthly Women's Health Research Review

Study assesses adolescent providers' understanding of EC policies

Summary of: "Over-the-counter emergency contraception for all ages: How has recent policy change influenced adolescent providers' practice?" Truehart et al., Journal of Adolescent Health, February 2016.

For this study, Amber Truehart of the University of Chicago and colleagues sought to gauge "awareness and impact of current over the counter [OTC] emergency contraception (EC) policies" in adolescent providers specializing in pediatrics, family medicine and emergency medicine.

Between June and October 2014, the researchers interviewed faculty members and medical residents specializing in pediatrics, family medicine and emergency medicine at four Chicago-based, urban, academic medical institutions.


The researchers found that few study "participants were aware of recent policy change regarding EC." According to the researchers, participants reported "limited formal education in residency about policy in general with most of their information coming from colleagues with a special interest in the topic."

Overall, the study found that faculty and residents in all three specialties had a "positive reaction to the policy change ... once aware of it." However, study participants specializing in pediatric and family medicine voiced concerns regarding cost "and that OTC status might discourage patients from coming in and receiving comprehensive sexual and reproductive health counseling."

According to the researchers, "All three specialties believed this policy change would affect their future clinical practice and contraceptive counseling in that they would counsel about EC on a more frequent basis."


The authors concluded that health care providers for adolescents "may lack awareness of EC policy, providing an avenue for addressing adolescent EC underuse." According to the researchers, the "findings could inform resident education around EC providing a foundation for integrating important policy information into residency education."