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April 2003

Pharmacists' Attitudes Toward and Practices With Adolescents

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University, Morgantown (Dr Conard); and Section of Adolescent Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis (Drs Fortenberry, Blythe, and Orr).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(4):361-365. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.4.361

Background  Adolescents often face barriers to health care. As pharmacists' scope of practice expands, they may be in positions to decrease barriers to care for adolescents.

Objective  To describe pharmacists' attitudes toward and practices with adolescents.

Design  Cross-sectional self-administered survey of chief pharmacists at 1361 Indiana pharmacies. Survey items inquired about sociodemographic variables, adolescent-specific pharmacy practices, and training in adolescent health issues.

Setting  All active, licensed pharmacies in Indiana were surveyed.

Participants  Nine hundred forty-eight surveys (70%) were returned. Sixty-five percent of responding pharmacists were male, 54% were younger than 45 years, and 58% had been practicing for more than 15 years; 47% practiced in areas with fewer than 30 000 people.

Main Outcome Measures  Pharmacists' attitudes toward and practices with adolescents.

Results  The majority of pharmacists (94%) dispensed prescriptions for adolescents, but 57% felt inadequately trained in adolescent-specific issues. Forty-eight percent of pharmacies did not dispense emergency contraception. Pharmacists were more likely to report dispensing contraceptives directly to 17-year-olds than to 14-year-olds, and were more likely to report contacting a parent or provider before dispensing contraceptives to 14-year-olds.

Conclusions  Adolescents often require pharmacy services, but many pharmacists feel inadequately trained in adolescent-specific issues. Confidentiality may not be maintained by all members of the health care team, and a prescription may be refused by the receiving pharmacist. Younger adolescents may face more barriers to care than older adolescents. Increasing pharmacists' knowledge and skills in adolescent issues, especially confidentiality, may decrease barriers to care and improve adolescent health outcomes.