Although many pharmacies sell natural health products (NHPs), there is no clear definition as to the roles and responsibilities (if any) of pharmacists with respect to these products.
The purpose of this study was to explore pharmacy and stakeholder leaders’ perceptions of pharmacists’ professional NHP roles and responsibilities.
Semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with pharmacy leaders (n= 17) and stakeholder (n=18) leaders representing consumers, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, conventional healthcare practitioners, and industry across Canada.
Overwhelmingly all participants believed a main NHP responsibility for pharmacists was safety monitoring. One challenge identified in the interviews was pharmacists’ general lack of NHP knowledge. Stakeholder leaders did not expect pharmacists to be experts on NHPs, rather that pharmacists should have a basic level of knowledge about NHPs. Many pharmacy leaders appeared to be unfamiliar with current pharmacy policies and guidelines concerning NHPs.
Participants described pharmacists’ professional roles and responsibilities for NHPs as similar to those for over-the-counter drugs. More awareness of existing NHP-related pharmacy policies is needed. Pharmacy owners/managers should provide additional training to ensure front-line pharmacists have appropriate knowledge of NHPs sold in the pharmacy.
PMID: 20188329 CAMSID: cams1316
natural health products; pharmacists; professional roles and responsibilities
Natural health products (NHPs) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines, are currently available for sale in most Canadian pharmacies. However, most pharmacists report that they have limited knowledge about these products which have been regulated in Canada as a specific sub-category of drugs. In this paper, consumers' and practicing pharmacists' perceptions of pharmacists' professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs are examined.
A total of 16 focus groups were conducted with consumers (n = 50) and pharmacists (n = 47) from four different cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax).
In this paper, we illustrate the ways in which pharmacists' professional responsibilities are impacted by changing consumer needs. Many consumers in the study utilized a wide range of information resources that may or may not have included pharmacists. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers and pharmacists agreed that pharmacists should be knowledgeable about NHPs and felt that pharmacists should be able to manage drug-NHPs interactions as well as identify and evaluate the variety of information available to help consumers make informed decisions.
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
Many consumers use natural health products (NHPs) concurrently with prescription medications. As NHP-related harms are under-reported through passive surveillance, the safety of concurrent NHP-drug use remains unknown. To conduct active surveillance in participating community pharmacies to identify adverse events related to concurrent NHP-prescription drug use.
Participating pharmacists asked individuals collecting prescription medications about (i) concurrent NHP/drug use in the previous three months and (ii) experiences of adverse events. If an adverse event was identified and if the patient provided written consent, a research pharmacist conducted a guided telephone interview to gather additional information after obtaining additional verbal consent and documenting so within the interview form. Over a total of 112 pharmacy weeks, 2615 patients were screened, of which 1037 (39.7%; 95% CI: 37.8% to 41.5%) reported concurrent NHP and prescription medication use. A total of 77 patients reported a possible AE (2.94%; 95% CI: 2.4% to 3.7%), which represents 7.4% of those using NHPs and prescription medications concurrently (95%CI: 6.0% to 9.2%). Of 15 patients available for an interview, 4 (26.7%: 95% CI: 4.3% to 49.0%) reported an AE that was determined to be “probably” due to NHP use.
Active surveillance markedly improves identification and reporting of adverse events associated with concurrent NHP-drug use. Although not without challenges, active surveillance is feasible and can generate adverse event data of sufficient quality to allow for meaningful adjudication to assess potential harms.
To develop a measure of pharmacists’ patient counseling on herbal and dietary supplements.
A systematic process was used for item generation, testing, and validation of a measure of pharmacists counseling on herbal and dietary supplements. Because a pharmacist-patient encounter may or may not identify an indication for taking an herb or dietary supplement, the instrument was bifurcated into 2 distinct components: (1) patient counseling in general; and (2) patient counseling related to herbal and dietary supplements.
The instrument demonstrated high reliability and desirable construct validity. After adjusting for item difficulty, we found that pharmacists tended to provide more general patient counseling than counseling related to herbal and dietary supplements.
This instrument can be applied to assess the quality of counseling provided by pharmacists and pharmacy students, and the outcomes of pharmacist and pharmacy student education on herbal and dietary supplements.
patient counseling; instrument; herbal and dietary supplements; pharmacist; student
Natural health products (NHPs), such as herbal medicines and vitamins, are widely available over-the-counter and are often purchased by consumers without advice from a healthcare provider. This study examined how consumers respond when they believe they have experienced NHP-related adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in order to determine how to improve current safety monitoring strategies.
Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve consumers who had experienced a self-identified NHP-related ADR. Key emergent themes were identified and coded using content analysis techniques.
Consumers were generally not comfortable enough with their conventional health care providers to discuss their NHP-related ADRs. Consumers reported being more comfortable discussing NHP-related ADRs with personnel from health food stores, friends or family with whom they had developed trusted relationships. No one reported their suspected ADR to Health Canada and most did not know this was possible.
Consumers generally did not report their suspected NHP-related ADRs to healthcare providers or to Health Canada. Passive reporting systems for collecting information on NHP-related ADRs cannot be effective if consumers who experience NHP-related ADRs do not report their experiences. Healthcare providers, health food store personnel, manufacturers and other stakeholders also need to take responsibility for reporting ADRs in order to improve current pharmacovigilance of NHPs.
Natural health products (NHP) use may have implications with respect to adverse effects, drug interactions and adherence yet the prevalence of NHP use by patients with acute cardiovascular disease and the best method to ascertain this information is unknown.
To identify the best method to ascertain information on NHP, and the prevalence of use in a population with acute cardiovascular disease.
Structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of consecutive patients admitted with acute cardiovascular disease to the University of Alberta Hospital during January 2009. NHP use was explored using structured and open-ended questions based on Health Canada's definition of NHP. The medical record was reviewed, and documentation of NHP use by physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, compared against the gold-standard structured interview.
88 patients were interviewed (mean age 62 years, standard deviation [SD 14]; 80% male; 41% admitted for acute coronary syndromes). Common co-morbidities included hypertension (59%), diabetes (26%) and renal impairment (19%). NHP use was common (78% of patients) and 75% of NHP users reported daily use. The category of NHP most commonly used was vitamins and minerals (73%) followed by herbal products (20%), traditional medicines including Chinese medicines (9%), homeopathic preparations (1%) and other products including amino acids, essential fatty acids and probiotics (35%). In a multivariable model, only older age was associated with increased NHP use (OR 1.5 per age decile [95%CI 1.03 to 2.2]). When compared to the interview, the highest rate of NHP documentation was the pharmacist history (41%). NHP were documented in 22% of patients by the physician and 19% by the nurse.
NHP use is common in patients admitted with acute cardiovascular disease. However, health professionals do not commonly identify NHP as part of the medication profile despite its potential importance. Structured interview appears to be the best method to accurately identify patient use of NHP.
Obesity is a growing health concern in Kuwait. Obesity has been identified as a key risk factor for many chronic diseases including hypertension, dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It has been shown that community pharmacists' involvement is associated with successful weight management in developed countries. This study was conducted to investigate the role of community pharmacists in obesity counseling, and to identify the barriers to counseling in Kuwait.
A descriptive cross-sectional study involved 220 community pharmacies that were selected via stratified and systematic random sampling. A pretested self-administered questionnaire collected information on frequency and comfort level with obesity counseling, and the perceived effectiveness of four aspects of obesity management (diet and exercise, prescribed antiobesity medications, diet foods, and nonprescription products and dietary supplements). Information on perceived confidence in achieving positive outcomes as a result of counseling and barriers to counseling was also collected. Descriptive and Spearman’ r analysis were conducted using SPSS version 17. Responses with Likert scale rating 1(low score) to 5 (high score) and binary choices (yes/no) were presented as mean (SD) and (95% CI), respectively.
The response rate was 93.6%. The overall mean (SD) responses indicated that pharmacists counseled obese patients sometimes to most of the time, 3.67 (1.19) and were neutral to comfortable with counseling about aspects of obesity management, 3.77 (1.19). Respondents perceived obesity management aspects to be somewhat effective, 3.80 (1.05). Of the four aspects of obesity management, diet and exercise, and diet foods were the highest ranked in terms of frequency of counseling, comfort level and perceived effectiveness. Pharmacists were neutral to confident in achieving positive outcomes as a result of obesity counseling, 3.44 (1.09). Overall mean responses of counseling obese patients by pharmacists were positively correlated with their perceived comfort with counseling and perceived effectiveness of obesity management aspects. The most anticipated barriers to obesity counseling were lack of patient awareness about pharmacists' expertise in counseling 76.2% (95% CI: 69.7-81.7) and pharmacists’ opinions that obese patients lack willpower and are non-adherent to weight reduction interventions 71.8% (95% CI: 65.1-77.8).
Strengths, weaknesses and barriers related to obesity counseling by pharmacists in Kuwait were identified, and suggestions were provided to strengthen that role.
Community pharmacists; Obesity; Obesity counseling; Kuwait
To reach consensus on core competency statements for natural health products (NHPs) for Canadian pharmacy students.
Four rounds of a modified Delphi method were used to achieve consensus on core competency statements for NHPs. Pharmacy educators from Canada and the United States, and representatives from Canadian pharmacy organizations ranked their agreement using a 5-point Likert scale.
Consensus was achieved on 3 NHP-related core competency statements: (1) to incorporate NHP knowledge when providing pharmaceutical care; (2) to access and critically appraise NHP-related information sources; and (3) to provide appropriate education to patients and other health care providers on the effectiveness, potential adverse effects, and drug interactions of NHPs.
Consensus was reached among leaders in NHP education on 3 NHP-related core competency statements. Implementation of these competencies would ensure that graduating Canadian pharmacists would be able to fulfill their professional responsibilities related to NHPs.
natural health products (NHPs); competencies; Delphi method; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine
To address knowledge gaps regarding natural health product (NHP) usage in mental health populations, we examined their use in adults with mood disorders, and explored the potential for adverse events.
Food and NHP intake was obtained from 97 adults with mood disorders. NHP data was used to compare prevalence with population norms (British Columbia Nutrition Survey; BCNS). Bivariate and regression analyses examined factors associated with NHP use. Assessment of potential adverse effects of NHP use was based on comparing nutrient intakes from food plus supplements with the Dietary Reference Intakes and by reviewing databases for reported adverse health effects.
Two-thirds (66%; 95% CI 56 to 75) were taking at least one NHP; 58% (95% CI 47 to 68) were taking NHPs in combination with psychiatric medications. The proportion of each type of NHP used was generally higher than the BCNS (range of p’s < 0.05 to 0.0001). When intakes from food and NHP sources were combined, a small proportion exceeded any Lowest-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Levels: only for niacin (n = 17) and magnesium (n = 6), two nutrients for which the potential for adverse effects is minimal. Conversely, about 38% (95% CI 28 to 49) of the sample were taking a non-nutrient based NHP for which previous adverse events had been documented.
The prevalent use of NHPs in this population suggests that health care providers need to be knowledgeable about their characteristics. The efficacy and safety of NHPs in relation to mental health warrants further investigation.
Natural health products; Adverse events; Mood disorders
To gain a more thorough understanding of why parents choose to give their children natural health products (NHPs), parents’ sources of information about NHPs, and the extent of disclosure and conversation with family doctors about the use of NHPs.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Parents of children who were using NHPs (N = 20).
Individual, semistructured interviews were carried out with parents to obtain a better understanding of the reasoning behind the use of NHPs. Key themes emerging from the qualitative data were identified according to a number of criteria, including relevance to the research objectives, frequency with which a theme was mentioned, relative importance of the themes based on the amount of text taken up to address an issue, and emphasis (eg, emphatic or emotional speech).
The types of NHPs used by parents participating in this study varied, except for the use of multivitamins. In addition, use of the products themselves was variable and inconsistent. Parents reported few concerns about the use of NHPs. The most commonly reported source of information about NHPs was family and friends. Most participants had not spoken to their family doctors about the use of NHPs.
Participants considered NHPs to be “natural” and seemed to equate this assessment with safety. This might explain why these parents sought advice and information from family and friends rather than from their family doctors and often failed to disclose the use of NHPs to their children’s family doctors.
Although dietary supplements (DS) are widely sold in pharmacies, the legal, ethical, and practice responsibilities of pharmacists with respect to these products have not been well defined. This systematic review of pharmacists' attitudes, knowledge, and professional practice behaviours toward DS is intended to inform pharmacy regulators' and educators' decision making around this topic.
Eligible studies were identified through a systematic database search for all available years through to March 2006. Articles were analyzed for this review if they included survey data on U.S. or Canadian pharmacists' attitudes, knowledge, or professional practice behaviors toward DS published in 1990 or later.
Due to the heterogeneity of the data, it was not possible to draw a conclusion with respect to pharmacists' general attitudes toward DS. Approximately equal numbers of pharmacists report positive as well as negative attitudes about the safety and efficacy of DS. There is strong agreement among pharmacists for the need to have additional training on DS, increased regulation of DS, and quality information on DS. In addition, survey data indicate that pharmacists do not perceive their knowledge of DS to be adequate and that pharmacists do not routinely document, monitor, or inquire about patients' use of DS. Despite this, a large proportion of pharmacists reported receiving questions about DS from patients and other health care practitioners.
Further research is needed to explore the factors that influence pharmacists' beliefs and attitudes about DS, to accurately evaluate pharmacists' knowledge of DS, and to uncover the reasons why pharmacists do not routinely document, monitor, or inquire about patients' use of DS.
Vitiligo is a hypopigmentation disorder affecting 1 to 4% of the world population. Fifty percent of cases appear before the age of 20 years old, and the disfigurement results in psychiatric morbidity in 16 to 35% of those affected.
Our objective was to complete a comprehensive, systematic review of the published scientific literature to identify natural health products (NHP) such as vitamins, herbs and other supplements that may have efficacy in the treatment of vitiligo. We searched eight databases including MEDLINE and EMBASE for vitiligo, leucoderma, and various NHP terms. Prospective controlled clinical human trials were identified and assessed for quality.
Fifteen clinical trials were identified, and organized into four categories based on the NHP used for treatment. 1) L-phenylalanine monotherapy was assessed in one trial, and as an adjuvant to phototherapy in three trials. All reported beneficial effects. 2) Three clinical trials utilized different traditional Chinese medicine products. Although each traditional Chinese medicine trial reported benefit in the active groups, the quality of the trials was poor. 3) Six trials investigated the use of plants in the treatment of vitiligo, four using plants as photosensitizing agents. The studies provide weak evidence that photosensitizing plants can be effective in conjunction with phototherapy, and moderate evidence that Ginkgo biloba monotherapy can be useful for vitiligo. 4) Two clinical trials investigated the use of vitamins in the therapy of vitiligo. One tested oral cobalamin with folic acid, and found no significant improvement over control. Another trial combined vitamin E with phototherapy and reported significantly better repigmentation over phototherapy only. It was not possible to pool the data from any studies for meta-analytic purposes due to the wide difference in outcome measures and poor quality ofreporting.
Reports investigating the efficacy of NHPs for vitiligo exist, but are of poor methodological quality and contain significant reporting flaws. L-phenylalanine used with phototherapy, and oral Ginkgo biloba as monotherapy show promise and warrant further investigation.
To determine the experiences of family physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador with parents’ use of natural health products (NHPs) for their children and to assess physicians’ attitudes toward use of NHPs in children.
A survey using the Dillman approach.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
All family physicians in the province.
Main outcome measures
Physician demographic characteristics; whether physicians inquire about the use of NHPs in children; the degree to which they think patients disclose use of NHPs in children; whether they counsel parents about the potential benefits or harms of NHPs; their own opinions about the usefulness of NHPs; whether they recommend NHPs in children and for what reasons; and the particular NHPs they have seen used in children and for what reasons.
A total of 159 (33.1%) family physicians responded; 65.4% were men, 71.7% were Canadian medical graduates, and 46.5% practised in rural areas. Overall, 18.8% of family physicians said they regularly or frequently asked about NHP use; 24.7% counseled patients about potential harms. Only 1.9% of physicians believed NHPs were usually beneficial, but a similarly small number (8.4%) thought they were usually harmful. Most respondents were somewhat neutral; 59.7% said they never recommend NHPs for children, and a further 37.0% said they would only “sometimes” recommend NHPs.
Most physicians believed that NHPs were probably of little benefit but not likely to be harmful. Most NHPs used were vitamins and minerals. Physicians recognized that NHPs were often used by parents for children, but in general they believed NHPs had little effect on their day-to-day medical practices. Thirty-eight (24.7%) of the 154 physicians had at least once recommended an NHP (including vitamins) for their pediatric patients. Physicians believed that parents did not often disclose use of NHPs for their children, but at the same time physicians generally did not actively inquire.
Natural health products (natural health products) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines are widely available in Canadian pharmacies. The purpose of this paper was to conduct a systematic analysis of Canadian pharmacy policies and guidelines to explore pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products.
Legislation, codes of ethics, standards of practice and guidance documents that apply to the practice of pharmacy in each Canadian jurisdiction were systematically collected and examined to identify if, and how, these instruments establish professional duties in regard to natural health products.
The majority of Canadian jurisdictions now include some explicit reference to natural health products in standards of practice policy or guideline documents. Often natural health products are simply assumed to be included in the over-the-counter (OTC) product category and thus professional responsibilities for OTCs are relevant for natural health products. A minority of provinces have specific policies on natural health products, herbals or homeopathy. In addition, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities’ Model Standards of Practice specifically refers to natural health products. Most policy documents indicate that pharmacists should inquire about natural health product use when counselling patients and, when asked, should provide accurate information regarding the efficacy, toxicity, side effects or interactions of natural health products. Public messaging also indicates that pharmacists are knowledgeable professionals who can provide evidence-based information about natural health products.
Explicit policies or guidelines regarding pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products currently exist in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions.
PMID: 22282720 CAMSID: cams1356
pharmacist; legal responsibilities; natural health products; dietary supplements
Expanded pharmacist prescribing is a new professional practice area for pharmacists. Currently, Australian pharmacists’ prescribing role is limited to over-the-counter medications. This review aims to identify Australian studies involving the area of expanded pharmacist prescribing. Australian studies exploring the issues of pharmacist prescribing were identified and considered in the context of its implementation internationally. Australian studies have mainly focused on the attitudes of community and hospital pharmacists towards such an expansion. Studies evaluating the views of Australian consumers and pharmacy clients were also considered. The available Australian literature indicated support from pharmacists and pharmacy clients for an expanded pharmacist prescribing role, with preference for doctors retaining a primary role in diagnosis. Australian pharmacists and pharmacy client’s views were also in agreement in terms of other key issues surrounding expanded pharmacist prescribing. These included the nature of an expanded prescribing model, the need for additional training for pharmacists and the potential for pharmacy clients gaining improved medication access, which could be achieved within an expanded role that pharmacists could provide. Current evidence from studies conducted in Australia provides valuable insight to relevant policymakers on the issue of pharmacist prescribing in order to move the agenda of pharmacist prescribing forwards.
Pharmacist prescribing; Australia; pharmacy clients; Australian pharmacy; non-medical prescribing
Harmonization of pharmacy education has to be made a global agenda that will encompass the developments that have taken place in basic, medical, pharmaceutical sciences in serving the needs and expectations of the society. The professional pharmacy curriculum is designed to produce pharmacists who have the abilities and skills to provide drug information, education, and pharmaceutical care to patients; manage the pharmacy and its medication distribution and control systems; and promote public health. Required coursework for all pharmacy students includes pharmaceutical chemistry; pharmaceutics (drug dosage forms, delivery, and disposition in the human body) pharmacology; therapeutics (the clinical use of drugs and dietary supplements in patients); drug information and analysis; pharmacy administration (including pharmacy law, bioethics, health systems, pharmacoeconomics, medical informatics); clinical skills (physical assessment, patient counseling, drug therapy monitoring for appropriate selection, dose, effect, interactions, use); and clinical pharmacy practice in pharmacies, industry, health maintenance organizations, hospital wards, and ambulatory care clinics.
Education; pharmacy curriculum; research
Pharmacies are venues in which patients seek out products and professional advice in order to improve overall health. However, many pharmacies in the United States continue to sell tobacco products, which are widely known to cause detrimental health effects. This conflict presents a challenge to pharmacists, who are becoming increasingly more involved in patient health promotion activities. This study sought to assess Western New York (WNY) area pharmacists’ opinions about the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, and pharmacists’ opinions on their role in patient smoking cessation.
Participants responded to two parallel surveys; a web-based survey was completed by 148 university-affiliated pharmacist preceptors via a list based sample, and a mail-based survey was completed by the supervising pharmacist in 120 area pharmacies via a list-based sample. The combined response rate for both surveys was 31%. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed to determine any significant differences between the preceptor and supervising pharmacist survey groups.
Over 75% of respondents support legislation banning the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. Over 86% of respondents would prefer to work in a pharmacy that does not sell tobacco products. Differences between preceptor and supervising pharmacist groups were observed. Action regarding counseling patients was uncommon among both groups.
Pharmacists support initiatives that increase their role in cessation counseling and initiatives that restrict the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. These data could have important implications for communities and pharmacy practice.
Tobacco sales; Pharmacists; Preceptors; Public health policy; Survey research; Pharmacies
To investigate older patient, physician and pharmacist perspectives about the pharmacists’ role in pharmacist-patient interactions.
Eight focus group discussions.
Senior centers, community pharmacies, primary care physician offices.
Forty-two patients aged 63 and older, 17 primary care physicians, and 13 community pharmacists.
Qualitative analysis of focus group discussions.
Participants in all focus groups indicated that pharmacists are a good resource for basic information about medications. Physicians appreciated pharmacists’ ability to identify drug interactions, yet did not comment on other specific aspects related to patient education and care. Physicians noted that pharmacists often were hindered by time constraints that impede patient counseling. Both patient and pharmacist participants indicated that patients often asked pharmacists to expand upon, reinforce, and explain physician-patient conversations about medications, as well as to evaluate medication appropriateness and physician treatment plans. These groups also noted that patients confided in pharmacists about medication-related problems before contacting physicians. Pharmacists identified several barriers to patient counseling, including lack of knowledge about medication indications and physician treatment plans.
Community-based pharmacists may often be presented with opportunities to address questions that can affect patient medication use. Older patients, physicians and pharmacists all value greater pharmacist participation in patient care. Suboptimal information flow between physicians and pharmacists may hinder pharmacist interactions with patients and detract from patient medication management. Interventions to integrate pharmacists into the patient healthcare team could improve patient medication management.
pharmacist-patient interactions; provider-patient communication; prescription medication; qualitative research methods
To determine the individual- and neighborhood-level predictors of frequent non-prescription in-pharmacy counseling.
130 pharmacies registered in the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) in New York City.
477 pharmacists, non-pharmacist owner/managers, and technicians/clerks.
Main outcome measures
Frequent counseling on medical conditions, health insurance, and other products.
Technicians were less likely than pharmacists to provide frequent counseling on medical conditions or health insurance. In terms of neighborhood-level characteristics, pharmacies in areas of high employment disability were less likely to provide frequent health insurance counseling and pharmacies in areas with higher deprivation were more likely to provide counseling on other products.
ESAP pharmacy staff is a frequent source of non-prescription counseling for their patients/customers in disadvantaged neighborhoods of NYC. These findings suggest that ESAP pharmacy staff may be amenable to providing relevant counseling services to injection drug using syringe customers and warrants further investigation.
Expanded Syringe Access Program; in-pharmacy counseling; injection drug users; expanded services; New York City
Easy access favours the informative role that pharmacists play in Poland with regard to the proper use of medicinal products as well as preventing illness and promoting health.
The aim of the present study was to define situations in which patients ask a pharmacist for advice and to identify the most important factors that affect the patients’ decisions in seeking advice from a pharmacist.
n all, 101 patients (69 women, 32 men) aged 19–67 years participated in the study. The study was conducted using a structured interview research method. Patients were asked to answer a set of closed-ended questions related to their habits regarding the purchase of medicines and the factors that affected their decision to seek the advice of a pharmacist.
Main outcome measure
Factors determining the choice to contact a pharmacy.
Patients seldom asked pharmacists for advice: 77 of the patients “rarely” or “never” went to a pharmacy to consult the pharmacist. When patients did ask the pharmacist for advice, it was mainly concerning the choice of over-the-counter medicines. The most important reason for patients visiting a pharmacy for advice was the large number of pharmacies in Poland and their ease of access; the long queues of people in busy pharmacies and the lack of confidentiality in the pharmacy were considered negative factors.
The current advisory role of pharmacists in Poland seems of minimal importance to the public.
Counselling; Health behaviour; Over-the-counter medicines; Self-medication
Health care spending in North America is consuming an ever-increasing share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A large proportion of alternative health care is consumed in the form of natural health products (NHPs). The question of whether or not NHPs may provide a cost-effective choice in the treatment of disease is important for patients, physicians and policy makers. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the literature in order to find, appraise and summarize high-quality studies that explore the cost effectiveness of NHPs as compared to conventional medicine. The following databases were searched independently in duplicate from inception to January 1, 2006: EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, BioethicsLine, Wilson General Science abstracts, EconLit, Cochrane Library, ABI/Inform and SciSearch. To be included in the review, trials had to be randomized, assessed for some measure of cost effectiveness and include the use of NHPs as defined by the Natural Health Products Directorate. Studies dealing with diseases due to malnutrition were excluded from appraisal. The pooled searches unveiled nine articles that fit the inclusion/exclusion criteria. The conditions assessed by the studies included three on postoperative complications, two on cardiovascular disease, two on gastrointestinal disorders, one on critically ill patients and one on urinary tract infections. Heterogeneity between the studies was too great to allow for meta-analysis of the results. The use of NHPs shows evidence of cost effectiveness in relation to postoperative surgery but not with respect to the other conditions assessed. In conclusion, NHPs may be of use in preventing complications associated with surgery. The cost effectiveness of some NHPs is encouraging in certain areas but needs confirmation from further research.
CAM; complementary and alternative medicine; cost effectiveness; natural health products; NHPs
During the past few years, the pharmacy profession has expanded significantly in terms of professional services delivery and now has been recognized as an important profession in the multidisciplinary provision of health care. In contrast to the situation in developed countries, pharmacists in developing countries are still underutilized and their role as health care professionals is not deemed important by either the community or other health care providers. The aim of this paper is to highlight the role of pharmacists in developing countries, particularly in Pakistan. The paper draws on the literature related to the socioeconomic and health status of Pakistan's population, along with background on the pharmacy profession in the country in the context of the current directions of health care.
The paper highlights the current scenario and portrays the pharmacy profession in Pakistan. It concludes that although the pharmacy profession in Pakistan is continuously evolving, the health care system of Pakistan has yet to recognize the pharmacist's role. This lack of recognition is due to the limited interaction of pharmacists with the public. Pharmacists in Pakistan are concerned about their present professional role in the health care system. The main problem they are facing is the shortage of pharmacists in pharmacies. Moreover, their services are focused towards management more than towards customers. For these reasons, the pharmacist's role as a health care professional is not familiar to the public.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impacts of pharmacists on patient outcomes. To capitalize on these positive impacts, hospital pharmacy organizations around the world are now calling on pharmacists to shift their focus from distribution of medications to patient outcomes. This new emphasis is consistent with the vision statement for the profession of pharmacy in Canada, as set out in the Blueprint for Pharmacy: “Optimal drug therapy outcomes for Canadians through patient-centred care”. Given the ambitious nature of this statement and these goals, it is essential to understand what pharmacists currently think of their practice.
To conduct a qualitative and semiquantitative analysis of hospital pharmacists’ perceptions of their role in patient care.
A researcher posing as a University of Alberta student who was studying how health professionals use language to describe what they do contacted the pharmacy departments of all hospitals in Alberta. The “top-of-mind” approach was used in asking hospital pharmacists 2 questions: (1) How many years have you been practising pharmacy? (2) In 3 or 4 words (or phrases), from your perspective could you please tell me, “What does a pharmacist do”? These techniques were used to minimize the impact of social desirability bias. Content analysis was used to categorize hospital pharmacists’ responses into 4 broad categories: patient-centred, drug-focused, drug distribution, and ambiguous.
A total of 103 phone calls were made to hospital pharmacies, and 85 pharmacists contacted in this way were willing to participate in the survey. Hospital pharmacists provided 333 individual responses to the question about their activities. Of these, 79 (23.7%) were patient-centred, 98 (29.4%) were drug-focused, and 82 (24.6%) were in the drug-distribution category. Ambiguous responses accounted for the remaining 74 (22.2%).
Aspects of care categorized as other than patient-centred should not be construed as unimportant. However, the fact that they were reported in this survey more frequently than patient-centred aspects suggests that hospital pharmacists in Alberta may have not fully embraced the concept of patient-centred care as outlined in the Blueprint for Pharmacy.
patient-centred; drug-focused; drug distribution; top-of-mind approach; hospital pharmacist; pharmacy culture; pratique axée sur le patient; pratique axée sur les médicaments; distribution des médicaments; analyse des réponses spontanées; pharmacien d’hôpital; culture de la pharmacie
Quackery (promotion of products that do not work or have not been proven to work) was once a commonly used term within the pharmacy and medical communities. However, an increasingly anti-scientific national climate culminated in passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which granted unprecedented legitimacy to “dietary supplements” that had not been scientifically proven to be effective and/or safe. In part, this was facilitated when professional pharmacy magazines and journals published advertisements and articles promoting these unproven medications. Gradually, pharmacy codes of ethics eliminated references to quackery, and some pharmacy organizations seemed to accept the unproven medications they once exhorted the pharmacist not to sell. The profession's shift in attitude toward unproven medications occurred as the medical community at large began to realize the value of evidence-based medicine. Academicians must resist pressure to present unproven therapies as realistic alternatives for medications with scientific proof of safety and efficacy. They must stress the value of evidence-based medicine and urge students and pharmacists to recommend only those medications with evidence-based proof of safety and efficacy.
quackery; dietary supplements; nonprescription products; homeopathy; complementary and alternative medicine
Consumers may seek health advice from health food store employees (HFSEs) and pharmacists. Delays in the diagnosis of time-critical illnesses may increase the likelihood of morbidity, mortality and healthcare expenditures.
To describe the information provided by HFSEs and pharmacists for symptoms of undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes.
A standardized actor portrayed a consumer with symptoms of Type 1 diabetes at eight community pharmacies and 12 health food stores (HFSs) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. He inquired about potential diagnoses, the need to see a physician, and product recommendations.
The subjects included twelve HFSEs and eight licensed pharmacists.
Four of eight (50%) pharmacists and two of 12 (17%) HFSEs mentioned diabetes as a potential diagnosis. Although six pharmacists recommended urgent physician follow-up, only two HFSEs did so; two HFSEs explicitly advised against a physician visit. One pharmacist recommended a product. Nine HFSEs recommended at least one product (monthly costs, range: $24.70–$209.96).
Even when presented with classic symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, under-recognition of diabetes was common among HFSEs and community pharmacists. Delays in treatment present a health risk to consumers. Further research could confirm these results and inform educational interventions to improve diabetes recognition by both groups.
diabetes mellitus; advice giving; complementary and alternative medicine; health food stores; pharmacists