Researchers conducted this study to explore women’s views on the deregulation of hormonal EC before becoming deregulated on 1 January 2001.

The study design was a qualitative study using face-to-face, semi-structured interviews.

The study setting was an NHS family planning clinic, a voluntary sector family planning clinic, and a general practice in the South West region.

The subjects were twenty-seven women aged 18-29 years.

Most women were in favor of deregulation with over-the-counter provision perceived as quick, convenient, and anonymous. Reservations regarding overuse and over-reliance upon EC mirror those of health professionals, although it was not felt that EC’s increased accessibility would lead to changes in sexual activity. Concerns that deregulation would promote an irresponsible attitude towards contraception were primarily focused on younger women. The cost was generally regarded as a positive barrier to overuse. The pharmacy setting was the preferred choice of provider for most women.

The study concluded that although most women in this study would prefer to obtain EC over-the-counter, the current charge of £20 is likely to prove a barrier.