Wayne State pharmacy, engineering researchers team up to examine barriers to birth control

Mary Beth O'Connell
Professor of Pharmacy Practice Mary Beth O'Connell

About 45% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, a public health issue being addressed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2030 initiative and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which aim to increase the number of women using contraception throughout their reproductive years. Twelve states and Washington DC have laws and three states including Michigan have collaborative practice agreement regulations that allow pharmacists to prescribe contraception in community pharmacies. 

“Emerging research on pharmacist-prescribed birth control documents a decrease in unintended pregnancies as well as Medicaid cost savings through this new service. Research also reveals many implementation barriers,” said Wayne State Professor of Pharmacy Practice Mary Beth O’Connell.

Kai Yang
Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Kai Yang

To facilitate this service being more widely adopted, O’Connell and her research scholar, PharmD candidate Zenab Rashid, have teamed up with Kai Yang, professor of industrial and systems engineering, to design a longitudinal study that will survey 2,280 Michigan community pharmacies on their motivating factors and barriers to prescribing birth control. Demographics, social influences, environmental context and resources, and other pharmacy characteristics will also be measured.

Yang, the director of Wayne State’s health systems engineering and informatics group, helped develop the survey based on the Theoretical Domains Framework. His health care research expertise includes data analytics, operations workflow management, access and continuity, and coordination.

The Michigan Pharmacy Foundation is supporting the project with a grant of nearly $7,000. The team will conduct the surveys between June 2021 and May 2022.

Zenab Rashid
Zenab Rashid, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2023

“Our grant-funded study highlights the interdisciplinary, collaborative atmosphere among Wayne State’s colleges, as well as the importance we place on involving our brilliant and driven students in research that will really make a difference,” O’Connell said.

“We believe we will capture valuable data to help promote and create advocacy efforts for pharmacists prescribing birth control in a community pharmacy with the ultimate goal to improve women’s wellness and access to great medical and pharmacy care. Identifying motivating factors and knowing barriers will help many groups – including the Michigan Pharmacists Association; state, regional and local pharmacy organizations; pharmacy colleges; and corporate and independent pharmacies – advance implementation and use of this new service.”

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