Program stresses value of youth-friendly care
Program stresses value of youth-friendly care
When teens in your area go to the neighborhood drug store to pick up a prescription for birth control or buy a package of condoms, what kind of reception do they receive? It might not be very cordial.
In a series of 2006 focus groups with African-American, Latina, and Asian Pacific Islander girls, more than 50% said they felt uncomfortable seeking such services in pharmacies, and were unaware that pharmacists were even health professionals. However, youth were interested in accessing more health information and services at the pharmacy.1 The focus groups were conducted by the Pharmacy Access Partnership, a center of the Pacific Institute for Women's Health, both based out of Los Angeles and Oakland, CA.
California pharmacists, health care professionals and advocates, and youth and youth-serving organizations are working to change that scene with the Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative, the first, U.S.-based collaboration to increase youth access to sexual and reproductive health care services in pharmacies. The program is designed to promote pharmacist provision of culturally competent services, says Belle Taylor-McGhee, president and CEO of the Pacific Institute for Women's Health.
"At a time when policy-makers and consumers are discussing health care reform and cost-effective ways to provide health services, pharmacies emerge as a logical access point," she says. "Pharmacies are conveniently located and are often open evenings, weekends, and holidays."
Pharmacies already have tailored their services to communities by providing health promotion and clinical management programs, such as diabetes management and smoking cessation, reports Taylor-McGhee.
Two training sessions for the Initiative were held in the spring of 2009, with more than 50 participating pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy store managers participating. Upcoming sessions are scheduled in San Francisco, Stockton, and Los Angeles, says Nicole Monastersky Maderas, MPH, Pharmacy Access Partnership program administrator. (Editor's note: For information on trainings, or to advance this initiative in your community, visit the Pharmacy Access Partnership web site, www.pharmacyaccess.org. Click on "Youth-Friendly Pharmacy.")
The training also will become available online this fall, and the Partnership is collaborating with the California Pharmacists Association to offer continuing education credits, she says. "We will promote the training's online availability through our newsletters, online social networks, and web sites."
What are some components that make a pharmacy "youth-friendly"? According to Monastersky Maderas, youth-friendly pharmacists and staff are trained to communicate effectively with and provide nonjudgmental, culturally competent services to teens about sensitive health topics, specifically sexual and reproductive health.
Youth-friendly pharmacists are familiar with minors' rights and know, in the rare instance, how to recognize when a report of child abuse or sexual activity of minors must be made, states Monastersky Maderas. They are able to explain the benefits of state-funded health insurance options available to teenage patients, she notes. "Youth-friendly pharmacies have staff members who are educated about the importance of serving youth with the same respect, confidentiality, and attention to time as all other clients," she explains. "They have developed policies and procedures for providing culturally appropriate youth-friendly pharmacy and health care services, which may include setting up the pharmacy with private consultation areas, youth-oriented magazines and signage and literature."
Why is it so important that pharmacies be equipped to handle the special needs of adolescent customers? Women, especially young women, encounter various barriers in accessing reproductive health care services and products, says Taylor-McGhee. The consequences of those barriers contribute to significant health disparities among youth populations.
Taylor-McGhee cited a Guttmacher Institute study that found that most teens used contraception the first time they had sex (74% of females and 82% of males. However, 82% of teen pregnancies are unintended and account for nearly 1 in 5 of all unintended pregnancies annually.2 Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) pregnancies among adolescents ages 15-19 will result in abortion,2 notes Taylor-McGhee. Findings from a 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicate one in four U.S. women ages 14-19 has a sexually transmitted disease, she notes.3
"Clearly, there is a need and urgency to improve sexual and reproductive health care access and information to assist young people in making informed decisions about their health," Taylor-McGhee states.
- Maderas NM, Landau SC, Dries-Daffner I, et al. Meeting teens' reproductive health needs at the pharmacy: A new model in California. Presented at the 135th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association. Washington, DC; November 2007.
- Guttmacher Institute. In Brief: Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health. Fact sheet. Accessed at guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_ATSRH.html.
- Forhan SE, Gottlieb SL, Sternberg MR, et al. Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis among female adolescents in the United States: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004. Presented at the 2008 National STD Prevention Conference. Chicago; March 2008.
Subscribe Now for Access
You have reached your article limit for the month. We hope you found our articles both enjoyable and insightful. For information on new subscriptions, product trials, alternative billing arrangements or group and site discounts please call 800-688-2421. We look forward to having you as a long-term member of the Relias Media community.