Infographic improves pharmacist knowledge about medication abortion in India

In India, it’s estimated that more than 70% of abortions are medication abortions outside of clinics. This makes pharmacists critical players in promoting quality care. However, current quality of care in pharmacies for abortion in India is low. Faced with increasing evidence that pharmacies are the first and primary point of contact for more than 11 million medication abortion users in India, researchers tested a simple intervention aimed at improving pharmacist knowledge.

The team developed an infographic with information on medication abortion dosing, timing, expected symptoms, side effects and when to seek care. Researchers saw significant increases in knowledge among pharmacists in the intervention group who received the infographic. A larger percentage answered questions correctly on topics like the timing of the medication and dosage after they were exposed to the infographic. More of them reported that they confirmed a woman was pregnant and asked for her gestational age before selling medication abortion. Almost all of them found the handout useful, and the majority thought it helped them provide better care and would like something like it to give to their clients.

There was less difference in the pharmacist behaviors when they were visited by mystery clients 1 month after receiving the infographic. The ones who had received the handout were more likely to show medication abortion instructions to clients, and slightly more likely to ask for gestational age and provide correct information about doses.

It’s encouraging that such a simple, low-cost, easily distributable resource increased pharmacist knowledge about medication abortion. However, the handout did not translate into many changes in practices. It’s likely that more intensive training will be required to change behaviors. Training could include role plays to enable pharmacists to use their increase in knowledge to pass on higher quality information to clients. Regardless, pharmacists welcome the infographic and wanted that type of tool both for themselves and for their clients. This simple intervention could be quickly, easily and economically scaled up to improve knowledge and clients’ experiences.