Domestic violence and abuse is a major public health problem, with devastating consequences for women who experience it and great cost to the NHS.
Local domestic homicide review and rapid literature reviews suggest that women who experience domestic violence and abuse are more likely to use the morning-after pill (emergency contraception) than those who do not. If this is the case, community pharmacists, who dispense about half of all emergency contraceptives, could be trained to identify abused women when they obtain the pill and refer them on to local services.
Before deciding whether this is appropriate, good quality evidence is needed on whether women who experience domestic violence and abuse are more likely to use the morning-after pill. To produce good evidence, we will:
-thoroughly review published research on this issue;
-carry out two new studies, using UK data.
We will also talk to pharmacists to get their views on whether identifying and referring abused women would be realistic and acceptable.
This work is carried out jointly with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) West in Bristol and CLAHRC North Thames in London.
The research is funded by NIHR CLAHRC West at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and CLAHRC North Thames at Barts Health NHS Trust, and supported by Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) on behalf of NHS Bristol CCG, North Somerset CCG and South Gloucestershire CCG.
If we find evidence that women who experience domestic violence and abuse are more likely to use emergency contraception, and pharmacists think they can help these women, we will develop and test a training package for pharmacists. This could have the following impacts:
an increase in the number of abused women accessing support, with the potential to increase women’s safety and improve their health;
improved quality of care for abused women;
the creation of a new link between community pharmacies and local domestic violence services;
easing of GPs’ workload.
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