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Pharmacy-based sexual health services: a systematic review of experiences and attitudes of pharmacy users and pharmacy staff


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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