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Trends and patterns of hormonal contraceptive prescribing for adolescents in primary care in the UK
  1. Asia N Rashed1,
  2. Yingfen Hsia2,
  3. Lynda Wilton3,
  4. May Ziller4,
  5. Karel Kostev5,
  6. Stephen Tomlin6
  1. 1Research Associate, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King's College London, King's Health Partners, London and Honorary Research Pharmacist, Evelina London Children's Hospital, Guy's & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King's Health Partners, London, UK
  2. 2Research Fellow, University College London, School of Pharmacy, London, UK and Research Fellow, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, Centre for Safe Medication Practice and Research, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  3. 3Honorary Research Consultant, University College London, School of Pharmacy, London, UK
  4. 4Gynaecologist, Department of Gynaecology, University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg GmbH, Marburg, Germany
  5. 5Research Consultant, IMS HEALTH Epidemiology, Frankfurt, Germany
  6. 6Honorary Clinical Reader, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King's College London, King's Health Partners, London and Consultant Pharmacist, Evelina London Children's Hospital, Guy's & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King's Health Partners, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Asia Rashed, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK; asia.rashed{at}kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

Background Hormonal contraceptives are the most common method used worldwide by teenagers to prevent unwanted pregnancies. To date there are limited data about such use by teenagers in the UK. This study investigated trends and patterns of hormonal contraceptive prescribing to adolescents aged 12–18 years in UK primary care between 2002 and 2011.

Methods A retrospective cohort study using the IMS Disease Analyzer database was conducted. All females aged 12–18 years with ≥1 prescription for a contraceptive drug between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2011 were included. Annual prevalence of contraceptive drug prescribing was calculated, and indications for prescribing, and types of contraceptive drug prescribed, were examined.

Results In 2002, 13.7% (6135/44 532) of female adolescents received prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives, compared to 19.0% (6597/34 676) in 2011. The majority of female adolescents [2002: 76.2% (4676/6135); 2011: 65.7% (4334/6597)] received a contraceptive drug for ‘contraceptive management’. The combined oral contraceptive (COC), ‘progestogen+estrogen’, was the most commonly prescribed. Although use of progestogen-only contraceptives was lower than COCs, the number of patients who received desogestrel pills and etonogestrel implants increased during the study period; levonorgestrel pill use declined. Only one injectable progestogen, long-acting depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, was prescribed.

Conclusions Use of hormonal contraceptives among adolescents increased between 2002 and 2011, and COC usage was dominant. The increasing use of hormonal contraceptives in adolescents, especially in younger adolescents, warrants further investigation, including research into the long-term safety of these medicines in this age group.

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