Emergency contraception (EC) is a tablet that can prevent pregnancy for women following unprotected sex or burst condoms etc. Most women who use EC in the UK go to a pharmacy for it. It is really important that women start a regular method of contraception after EC if they don’t want to become pregnant. However, most pharmacies cannot usually provide contraception (except condoms) without a prescription. This means that to start regular contraception (e.g. implant, pill etc) women must go to a GP or family planning clinic. Getting an appointment can take time and some women fall pregnant during this time. We are planning a research study called the ‘Bridge -it’ study. This study is designed to tell us whether or not pharmacists should be able to give a temporary supply (3 months) of the progestogen only pill (sometimes called ‘POP’) along with EC to women. The idea behind this study is that by giving women a supply of the POP they will have temporary contraception until they can go to a clinic to get their preferred method of contraception.
BRIDGE -IT is a cluster randomised controlled trial that involves 31 pharmacies in 3 UK regions London (South and Central), Lothian (Edinburgh and region) and Tayside (Dundee and region).
BRIDGE -IT will recruit a total of 626-737 women presenting for oral emergency contraception at study pharmacies.
BRIDGE –IT will compare standard care with emergency contraception against an intervention which is 3 months of a progestogen only pill and the offer to attend a local participating specialist contraceptive service to discuss and provide ongoing effective contraception.
BRIDGE –IT will determine if the intervention can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies for women seeking emergency contraception.
Women in both arms of the study will be contacted by telephone 4 months later for a short telephone interview to determine contraceptive use. The number of unintended pregnancies in both arms of the study, over the 12 months will be compared. The cost of providing the intervention will also be calculated.
BRIDGE –IT will also conduct interviews with pharmacists and some women to determine views on whether and how the intervention might become a part of routine clinical care.
BRIDGE-IT has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research. For more information please visit www.nets.nihr.ac.uk.