Article Text

Pharmacy-based sexual health services: a systematic review of experiences and attitudes of pharmacy users and pharmacy staff
  1. Julia Gauly1,
  2. Jonathan Ross2,
  3. Isobel Hall1,
  4. Irekanmi Soda1,
  5. Helen Atherton1
  1. 1 Warwick Medical School, Warwick University, Coventry, United Kingdom
  2. 2 Department of Sexual Health and HIV, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Julia Gauly, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; J.Gauly{at}


Background Pharmacies are increasingly providing services related to contraception and STIs. Identifying pharmacy staff’ and users’ experiences and attitudes relating to sexual health services is critical to understand users’ needs and examining how pharmacy staff can most effectively contribute to patient-centred care. This systematic review aimed to examine pharmacy staff and pharmacy users’ experiences and attitudes towards the delivery of a large range of sexual health services.

Methods Seven electronic databases and the reference lists of all included studies were searched in September 2018. Studies giving insight into pharmacy users’ and pharmacy staff’s experiences and attitudes towards the delivery of services related to contraception and STIs were included. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool was used to assess the quality of included studies and a narrative synthesis applied to analyse evidence.

Results Nineteen studies were included. Eleven studies looked at pharmacy staff, four at users and four at both groups. Users found services accessible and convenient and staff found service provision feasible. However, several barriers to service delivery were identified including lack of privacy for delivering services, lack of trained staff available to provide services and subjective judgements being made on who should be provided or offered a service.

Discussion Barriers to service delivery need to be addressed to allow pharmacies to deliver their full potential. Future research on pharmacy-based gonorrhoea and syphilis screening, and hepatitis B vaccination is needed.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42018106807.

  • sexual health
  • screening
  • contraception
  • HIV testing
  • service delivery

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  • Handling editor Dr Adam Huw Bourne

  • Collaborators Samantha Johnson; Professor Xavier Armoiry.

  • Contributors JG, HA and JR planned and designed the systematic review and the systematic review protocol. XA provided feedback on the systematic review protocol. JG designed the literature search with support from HA, JR and SJ. JG carried out the literature search and deduplicated the records. JG, IH and IS screened records for their eligibility. Where no consensus could be reached, HA and JR made a decision on records’ eligibility. JG, IH and IS conducted the quality assessment of all included records. Where no consensus could be reached, the study was discussed with Dr Helen Atherton and Professor Jonathan. The analysis and interpretation was conducted by JG with support by HA and JR, who also supported the write up and critical revision of the systematic review. The version to be published was approved by JG. JR, IH, IS and HA.

  • Funding This study was funded by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.