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New study seeks public views on pharmacy-based sexual health services

  • Putting sexual health services into pharmacies is expected to free up doctors’ and clinicians’ time
  • Whether people accept pharmacies as sexual health providers is influenced by how comfortable they feel and whether people perceive the service delivery as discrete
  • University of Warwick PhD research is examining how people in Birmingham experience the delivery of sexual health services in pharmacies
  • Sexual health provider Umbrella provides services related to sexually transmitted infections and contraception in pharmacies in Birmingham

A new study from Warwick Medical School is seeking the experiences of users of pharmacy-based sexual health services.

Focusing on the Birmingham-based service Umbrella, the study hopes to find out what users like and dislike about the pharmacy services.

Led by PhD student Julia Gauly from the University of Warwick, the aim is to find ways to improve the services. She is looking for volunteers who have recently used the Umbrella sexual health service at one of the partner pharmacies in Birmingham and who would be interested in sharing their experience in a telephone interview.

People who have received any type of contraception (oral contraception, contraceptive injection, morning after pill, condoms) or a service related to sexually transmitted infections (screening for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV or chlamydia treatment) from an Umbrella pharmacy in Birmingham are welcome to contact Julia Gauly to discuss their experience (E: J.Gauly@warwick.ac.uk). All enquiries will be treated confidentially.

Sexual health service providers have recently put more services into pharmacies as these offer a lot of advantages in service delivery: they have long opening hours, evening and weekend access and no appointments need to be scheduled.

Sexual health services are highly important: if left untreated, sexually transmitted infections, which often don’t show symptoms, can have severe health implications. Furthermore, contraception services can empower women to choose the number and timing of pregnancies and can help to prevent teenage pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy.

Julia Gauly said: “In recent years, cuts to sexual health services have seen them moved into pharmacies, as has happened with many other services. This has made them more accessible to the general public. However, for people to take up the services, pharmacies have to ensure that people have sufficient privacy and feel comfortable talking about their sexual health concerns.

“Currently we don’t really know much about how people experience being provided with sexual health services at the pharmacy and it is really important for us to hear what pharmacy users have to say.”

Julia’s PhD research will involve face-to-face and telephone interviews with service users and pharmacy staff. Alongside this, she has conducted a systematic review of current evidence on pharmacy-based health services and will conduct an analysis of who is currently reached by pharmacy services.

Dr Helen Atherton, Julia’s PhD supervisor, said: “There is evidently a need for high quality research on pharmacy-based sexual health services and this study will contribute to understanding how people perceive the services and how they can be optimised.”

Jonathan Ross from Umbrella and University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have been offering pharmacy-based sexual health services since August 2015 and are interested to find out how people experience our services.”

Ends

4 July 2019

For more information/interviews contact:

Peter Thorley
Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics)

Email: peter.thorley@warwick.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)24 761 50868

Mob: +44 (0) 7824 540863