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1.  The Ethics of Dietary Supplements and Natural Health Products in Pharmacy Practice: A Systematic Documentary Analysis 
Aims and Objectives
Many natural health products (NHPs) and dietary supplements (DS) are purchased in pharmacies and it has been argued that pharmacists are in the best position to provide patients with evidence-based information about them. This study was designed to identify how the pharmacist’s role with respect to NHPs/DS is portrayed in the literature.
Method
A systematic search was conducted in a variety of health databases to identify all literature that pertained to both pharmacy and NHPs/DS. Of the 786 articles identified, 665 were broad-coded and 259 were subjected to in-depth qualitative content analysis for emergent themes.
Key Findings
Overwhelmingly, support for the sale of NHPs/DS in pharmacies is strong. Additionally, a role for pharmacists in NHP/DS counselling is underscored. But another recurrent theme is that pharmacists are ill-equipped to counsel patients about these products that are available on their shelves. This situation has led some to question the ethics of pharmacists selling NHPs/DS and to highlight the existence of an ethical conflict stemming from the profit-motive associated with NHP/DS sales.
Conclusion
This analysis raises concerns about the ethics of NHPs/DS being sold in pharmacies, and about pharmacists being expected to counsel about products of which they have little knowledge.
PMCID: PMC2918535  PMID: 20218027 CAMSID: cams1317
2.  Exploring consumer and pharmacist views on the professional role of the pharmacist with respect to natural health products: a study of focus groups 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-40
PMCID: PMC2483265  PMID: 18625059
3.  Public awareness, patterns of use and attitudes toward natural health products in Kuwait: a cross-sectional survey 
Background
There has been a global rise in the use of natural health products (NHPs). Proper regulation of NHPs is pivotal to ensure good quality control standards, enhance consumers' safety and facilitate their integration into modern healthcare systems. There is scarcity of published data on the prevalence of NHPs usage among the general Kuwaiti population. Hence, this study was designed to determine awareness, patterns of use, general attitude and information requirements about NHPs among the public in Kuwait.
Methods
A descriptive cross-sectional survey was performed using a pretested self-administered questionnaire on a sample of 1300 Kuwaiti individuals, selected from six governorates in Kuwait using a multistage stratified clustered sampling. Descriptive and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used in data analysis.
Results
The response rate was 90.2%. NHPs were thought to be herbal remedies by most of participants (63.5%), followed by vitamins/minerals (40.5%), traditional medicines (21.1%), probiotics (14.9%), amino acids and essential fatty acids (7.2%), and homeopathic medicines (5.6%). NHPs usage was reported by 71.4% (95% CI: 68.8-74.0%) of respondents, and mostly associated with females (OR: 1.90; 95% CI: 1.44-2.51). Herbal remedies were the most commonly used (41.3%; 95% CI: 38.5-44.2%). The most common reasons for using NHPs were to promote and maintain health and to prevent illness and build immune system. Family members and/or friends and mass media were the main sources for providing information about NHPs. About 18% of consumers have experienced a side effect due to using a NHP. Attitudes toward NHPs were generally positive; with more than 75% of participants believing that the Ministry of Health in Kuwait should regulate the claims made by the manufacturers of NHPs and it is important to talk to a medical doctor or a pharmacist prior to using NHPs. Most of the respondents showed increased interest to acquire knowledge about different types of information related to NHPs.
Conclusions
The prevalence of use of NHPs among Kuwaiti population is high. The present findings have major public health policy implications for Kuwait. Therefore, there is an apparent need to establish effective health education programs and implement better and more regulated NHPs use policies in Kuwait.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-105
PMCID: PMC3999934  PMID: 24646341
Natural health products; Herbal remedies; Patterns of use; Kuwait
4.  Core Competencies in Natural Health Products for Canadian Pharmacy Students 
Objective
To reach consensus on core competency statements for natural health products (NHPs) for Canadian pharmacy students.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
PMCID: PMC2865411  PMID: 20498738
natural health products (NHPs); competencies; Delphi method; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine
5.  Pharmacists’ knowledge and attitudes about natural health products: a mixed-methods study 
Objectives
To explore knowledge and attitude of pharmacists in Qatar towards natural health products (NHPs).
Methods
The quantitative component of this study consisted of an anonymous, online, self-administered questionnaire to assess knowledge about NHPs among pharmacists in Qatar. Descriptive statistics and inferential analysis were conducted using Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS®). Means and standard deviation were used to analyze descriptive data, and statistical significance was expressed as P-value, where P≤0.05 was considered statistically significant. Associations between variables were measured using Pearson correlation. The qualitative component utilized focus group (FG) meetings with a purposive sample of community pharmacists. Meetings were conducted until a point of saturation was reached. FG discussions were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using a framework approach to sort the data according to emerging themes.
Results
The majority of participants had average to poor knowledge about NHPs while only around 7% had good knowledge. In the FG meetings, participants considered the media, medical representatives, and old systems of natural health as major source of their knowledge. They criticized undergraduate pharmacy courses (for inadequately preparing pharmacists to deal with NHPs) and the pharmacy regulations (for being irrelevant). A perception of NHPs as being “safe” still exists among pharmacists.
Conclusions
Pharmacists’ ability to provide effective services associated with NHPs is limited by poor access to evidence-based information and poor knowledge. A perception of NHPs and CAM as ‘safe’ still exists among pharmacists, and regulations related to NHPs require addressing to follow best practice and ensure patient safety.
doi:10.2147/DHPS.S57756
PMCID: PMC3912048  PMID: 24501547
Qatar; focus group; complimentary alternative medicine
6.  Study of Natural Health Product Adverse Reactions (SONAR): Active Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Concurrent Natural Health Product and Prescription Drug Use in Community Pharmacies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45196.
Background
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045196
PMCID: PMC3461007  PMID: 23028841
7.  The Prevalence of Natural Health Product Use in Patients with Acute Cardiovascular Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19623.
Background
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.
Objective
To identify the best method to ascertain information on NHP, and the prevalence of use in a population with acute cardiovascular disease.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019623
PMCID: PMC3090400  PMID: 21573067
8.  Patient self-management and pharmacist-led patient self-management in Hong Kong: A focus group study from different healthcare professionals' perspectives 
Background
Patient self-management is a key approach to manage non-communicable diseases. A pharmacist-led approach in patient self-management means collaborative care between pharmacists and patients. However, the development of both patient self-management and role of pharmacists is limited in Hong Kong. The objectives of this study are to understand the perspectives of physicians, pharmacists, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners, and dispensers on self-management of patients with chronic conditions, in addition to exploring the possibilities of developing pharmacist-led patient self-management in Hong Kong.
Methods
Participants were invited through the University as well as professional networks. Fifty-one participants comprised of physicians, pharmacists, TCM practitioners and dispensers participated in homogenous focus group discussions. Perspectives in patient self-management and pharmacist-led patient self-management were discussed. The discussions were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed accordingly.
Results
The majority of the participants were in support of patients with stable chronic diseases engaging in self-management. Medication compliance, monitoring of disease parameters and complications, lifestyle modification and identifying situations to seek help from health professionals were generally agreed to be covered in patient self-management. All pharmacists believed that they had extended roles in addition to drug management but the other three professionals believed that pharmacists were drug experts only and could only play an assisting role. Physicians, TCM practitioners, and dispensers were concerned that pharmacist-led patient self-management could be hindered, due to unfamiliarity with the pharmacy profession, the perception of insufficient training in disease management, and lack of trust of patients.
Conclusions
An effective chronic disease management model should involve patients in stable condition to participate in self-management in order to prevent health deterioration and to save healthcare costs. The role of pharmacists should not be limited to drugs and should be extended in the primary healthcare system. Pharmacist-led patient self-management could be developed gradually with the support of government by enhancing pharmacists' responsibilities in health services and developing public-private partnership with community pharmacists. Developing facilitating measures to enhance the implementation of the pharmacist-led approach should also be considered, such as allowing pharmacists to access electronic health records, as well as deregulation of more prescription-only medicines to pharmacy-only medicines.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-121
PMCID: PMC3127980  PMID: 21609422
patient self-management; pharmacist-led patient self-management; chronic disease; health policy; Hong Kong
9.  Understanding public trust in services provided by community pharmacists relative to those provided by general practitioners: a qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e000939.
Objectives
To apply sociological theories to understand public trust in extended services provided by community pharmacists relative to those provided by general practitioners (GPs).
Design
Qualitative study involving focus groups with members of the public.
Setting
The West of Scotland.
Participants
26 purposively sampled members of the public were involved in one of five focus groups. The groups were composed to represent known groups of users and non-users of community pharmacy, namely mothers with young children, seniors and men.
Results
Trust was seen as being crucial in healthcare settings. Focus group discussions revealed that participants were inclined to draw unfavourable comparisons between pharmacists and GPs. Importantly, participants' trust in GPs was greater than that in pharmacists. Participants considered pharmacists to be primarily involved in medicine supply, and awareness of the pharmacist's extended role was low. Participants were often reluctant to trust pharmacists to deliver unfamiliar services, particularly those perceived to be ‘high risk’. Numerous system-based factors were identified, which reinforce patient trust and confidence in GPs, including GP registration and appointment systems, GPs' expert/gatekeeper role and practice environments. Our data indicate that the nature and context of public interactions with GPs fostered familiarity with a specific GP or practice, which allowed interpersonal trust to develop. By contrast, participants' exposure to community pharmacists was limited. Additionally, a good understanding of the GPs' level of training and role promoted confidence.
Conclusion
Current UK initiatives, which aim to implement a range of pharmacist-led services, are undermined by lack of public trust. It seems improbable that the public will trust pharmacists to deliver unfamiliar services, which are perceived to be ‘high risk’, unless health systems change in a way that promotes trust in pharmacists. This may be achieved by increasing the quality and quantity of patient interactions with pharmacists and gaining GP support for extended pharmacy services.
Article summary
Article focus
Why do the public access GPs for services, which are also available in community pharmacies?
What sort of services do the public trust community pharmacists to deliver?
What factors underpin greater public trust in GP services relative to community pharmacy services?
Key messages
Public trust in GPs was greater than that in pharmacists; many were reluctant to trust pharmacists to deliver unfamiliar ‘high-risk’ services.
Numerous system-based factors reinforce public trust and confidence in GPs, including GP registration and appointment systems, GPs' expert/gatekeeper role and practice environments.
This study suggests that increasing the quality and quantity of patient interactions with pharmacists and gaining GP support for extended pharmacy services could build public trust.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study to apply sociological perspectives of trust to understand public perspectives of community pharmacy.
The qualitative approach has allowed us to gather in-depth information in an under-researched area.
The study methodology limits generalisation, although theme saturation was achieved and the context of the study is explicitly defined.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000939
PMCID: PMC3358628  PMID: 22586286
10.  A qualitative study exploring the impact and consequence of the medicines use review service on pharmacy support-staff 
Pharmacy Practice  2013;11(2):118-124.
Background
Pharmacy support-staff (pharmacy technicians, dispensers and Medicines Counter Assistants) support the delivery of pharmaceutical and retail functions of the pharmacy. Workflow is supervised and at times dependent upon the pharmacist’s presence. Policy makers and pharmacy’s representative bodies are seeking to extend the community pharmacist's role including requiring the pharmacist to undertake private consultations away from the dispensary and shop floor areas. However, support-staff voices are seldom heard and little is known about the impact such policies have on them.
Objective
The objective of this study is to explore the impact and consequences of the English Medicine Use Review (MUR) service on pharmacy support-staff.
Methods
Ten weeks of ethnographic-oriented observations in two English community pharmacies and interviews with 5 pharmacists and 12 support-staff. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data.
Results
Despite viewing MURs as a worthwhile activity, interviews with support-staff revealed that some felt frustrated when they were left to explain to patients why the pharmacist was not available when carrying out an MUR. Dependency on the pharmacist to complete professional and accuracy checks on prescriptions grieved dispensing staff because dispensing workflow was disrupted and they could not get their work done. Medicines Counter Assistants were observed to have less dependency when selling medicines but some still reported concerns over of customers and patients waiting for the pharmacist. A range of tacit and ad hoc strategies were consequently found to be deployed to handle situations when the pharmacist was absent performing an MUR.
Conclusions
Consideration should be given to support-staff and pharmacists’ existing work obligations when developing new pharmacy extended roles that require private consultations with patients. Understanding organisational culture and providing adequate resourcing for new services are needed to avoid improvisations or enactments by pharmacy support-staff and to allow successful innovation and policy implementation.
PMCID: PMC3798177  PMID: 24155859
Pharmacists' Aides; Pharmacists; Workflow; Community Pharmacy Services; Drug Utilization Review; Professional Practice; United Kingdom
11.  Consumers of natural health products: natural-born pharmacovigilantes? 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-8
PMCID: PMC2847952  PMID: 20184759
12.  Public’s attitudes towards community pharmacy in Qatar: a pilot study 
Objectives
To assess the public’s attitudes towards the community pharmacist’s role in Qatar, to investigate the public’s use of community pharmacy, and to determine the public’s views of and satisfaction with community pharmacy services currently provided in Qatar.
Materials and methods
Three community pharmacies in Qatar were randomly selected as study sites. Patients 16 years of age and over who were able to communicate in English or Arabic were randomly approached and anonymously interviewed using a multipart pretested survey.
Results
Over 5 weeks, 58 patients were interviewed (60% response rate). A total of 45% of respondents perceived community pharmacists as having a good balance between health and business matters. The physician was considered the first person to contact to answer drug- related questions by 50% of respondents. Most patients agreed that the community pharmacist should provide them with the medication directions of use (93%) and advise them about the treatment of minor ailments (79%); however, more than 70% didn’t expect the community pharmacist to monitor their health progress or to perform any health screening. Half of the participants (52%) reported visiting the pharmacy at least monthly. The top factor that affected a patient’s choice of any pharmacy was pharmacy location (90%). When asked about their views about community pharmacy services in Qatar, only 37% agreed that the pharmacist gave them sufficient time to discuss their problem and was knowledgeable enough to answer their questions.
Conclusion
This pilot study suggested that the public has a poor understanding of the community pharmacist’s role in monitoring drug therapy, performing health screening, and providing drug information. Several issues of concern were raised including insufficient pharmacist– patient contact time and unsatisfactory pharmacist knowledge. To advance pharmacy practice in Qatar, efforts may be warranted to address identified issues and to promote the community pharmacist’s role in drug therapy monitoring, drug information provision, and health screening.
doi:10.2147/PPA.S22117
PMCID: PMC3176180  PMID: 21949604
pharmacist; public; attitudes; Qatar
13.  Patient attitudes regarding the role of the pharmacist and interest in expanded pharmacist services 
Canadian Pharmacists Journal : CPJ  2014;147(4):239-247.
Background:
Pharmacists are consistently ranked among the most trusted professionals, and research shows high levels of satisfaction with pharmacist services. Studies have also shown that the public is generally unaware of the full range of roles and responsibilities of a pharmacist. The purpose of this study was to explore the public’s knowledge and attitudes regarding the role of the community pharmacist and to determine their likelihood of using expanded pharmacist services.
Methods:
Adults across Newfoundland and Labrador were surveyed by telephone. Survey questions addressed how frequently participants visited the pharmacy, understanding of duties undertaken by pharmacists, perceptions and attitudes regarding pharmacists as health care professionals, likelihood of using expanded pharmacist services and participant demographics. Comparisons were made between responses from urban and rural participants and frequent versus nonfrequent pharmacy users, to determine if there were any differences.
Results:
The majority of participants were generally aware of what pharmacists do when filling prescriptions; those who visited the pharmacy more frequently appeared to be more informed. Participants indicated they would take advantage of the expanded services suggested, with greatest interest in receiving advice for minor ailment management and prescription refills from pharmacists. Results support the prevailing view that pharmacists are trusted health professionals who should have access to patients’ health information to provide best care.
Conclusion:
The public is aware of aspects of the pharmacist’s role, but opportunities exist to better educate the public on the knowledge, skills and unique professional abilities of pharmacists to support uptake of expanded pharmacist services.
doi:10.1177/1715163514535731
PMCID: PMC4212442  PMID: 25360150
14.  Pharmacists and Natural Health Products: A systematic analysis of professional responsibilities in Canada 
Pharmacy practice  2008;6(1):33-42.
PURPOSE
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.
METHODS
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.
RESULTS
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.
CONCLUSIONS
Explicit policies or guidelines regarding pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products currently exist in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions.
PMCID: PMC3265537  PMID: 22282720 CAMSID: cams1356
pharmacist; legal responsibilities; natural health products; dietary supplements
15.  Pharmacists and Natural Health Products: A systematic analysis of professional responsibilities in Canada 
Pharmacy Practice  2008;6(1):33-42.
Natural health products such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines are widely available in Canadian pharmacies.
Purpose
to conduct a systematic analysis of Canadian pharmacy policies and guidelines to explore pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Explicit policies or guidelines regarding pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products currently exist in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions.
PMCID: PMC3265537  PMID: 22282720
Natural health products; Practice Guidelines as Topic; Pharmacists; Canada
16.  Attitudes and experiences of community pharmacists towards paediatric off-label prescribing: a prospective survey 
What is already known about this subject
There are increasing concerns about the safety and efficacy of paediatric off-label medicines.In the UK, each year 26% of children receive an off-label prescription from their general practitioner.The community pharmacist is the final and key professional in the chain, with the responsibility to ensure that medicines are both prescribed and dispensed appropriately.
What this study adds
The majority of community pharmacists are aware of off-label prescribing, but through work experience rather than undergraduate or postgraduate training or professional development.Community pharmacists, like UK general practitioners, underestimate the levels of paediatric off-label prescribing, and appear unclear as to the most common reasons for a prescription being off label.Most community pharmacists stated that they should inform the prescriber that a medicine was off label; however, when given specific practical examples, less than half would actually appear to do so.The majority of community pharmacists have been asked by the public to sell over-the-counter medicines for paediatric off-label use.
Aim
To identify community pharmacist experiences of, and attitudes towards paediatric off-label prescribing.
Methods
A prospective questionnaire-based study, with a 21-item questionnaire issued to 1500 randomly selected community pharmacies throughout the UK during 2005 on three separate occasions.
Results
Four hundred and eighty-two (32.1%) completed questionnaires were returned. Over 70% of respondents were familiar with the concept of off-label prescribing, primarily through dispensing experience rather than education, although only 40% were aware of having dispensed a paediatric off-label prescription within the previous month. The reasons given for a prescription being off label were younger age than recommended (84.6%, 297/351), primarily for antihistamines, analgesics and β2-agonists, and higher (73.9%, 229/310) or lower than (41%, 103/258) recommended dose, primarily antibiotics and analgesics. Over 60% of respondents had been asked by the public to sell paediatric over-the-counter medicines, such as antihistamines, analgesics and steroid preparations for off-label use. The majority of respondents used the British National Formulary or the Pack Insert rather than specialist formularies or guidelines as a source of specialist paediatric information. Although 78% of respondents believed they had a responsibility to inform the prescriber that a medicine was off label, only 66% believed that they had a similar responsibility to inform parents.
Conclusion
The community pharmacists who responded to this questionnaire appear to be aware of and concerned by the issues which surround paediatric off-label prescribing. Despite this, most gained relevant knowledge through work experience rather than undergraduate or postgraduate training or professional development.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2007.02865.x
PMCID: PMC2000609  PMID: 17324238
attitudes; community pharmacy; off-label prescribing; paediatrics; questionnaire; survey
17.  U.S. and Canadian pharmacists' attitudes, knowledge, and professional practice behaviors toward dietary supplements: a systematic review 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-31
PMCID: PMC1586212  PMID: 16984649
18.  Use of natural health products in children 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(8):e364-e371.
Abstract
Objective
To determine how common it is for parents to give natural health products (NHPs) to their children, which NHPs are being used, why they are being used, and parents’ assessments of the benefits and side effects of NHPs.
Design
Survey.
Setting
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Participants
Parents waiting in their family doctors’ offices.
Main outcome measures
Parent and child demographic characteristics; pediatric chronic medical conditions affecting the children; prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, and NHPs used by the children; why the medications and NHPs were being used, the dose, and parents’ assessments of the effectiveness and side effects; and where parents had heard about the NHPs, whether they had told their physicians that the children were taking the products, and where they had obtained the products.
Results
A total of 202 (53.4%) of the 378 eligible adults who were approached completed the survey. This represented 333 children. Mean (SD) age of the children was 5.1 (3.3) years. Overall, 28.7% of parents reported using nonvitamin NHPs for their children. A total of 137 children (41.1%) had taken NHPs (including vitamins); 61.1% of the NHPs being used were vitamins. The remainder fell under teas (primarily chamomile and green teas), echinacea, fish or omega-3 oils, and a large category of “other” products. These NHPs were most commonly used to improve general health, improve immunity, and prevent colds and infections. Approximately half of the parents (51.7%) believed their children had benefited from taking NHPs, and 4.4% believed their children had experienced adverse side effects. Slightly less than half of the parents (45.0%) had informed their physicians that their children were taking NHPs.
Conclusion
Overall, 45.5% of parents attending physicians’ offices reported using NHPs in their children. If vitamins are not included in the definition of NHPs, this rate drops to 28.7%. Parents most commonly use NHPs to maintain the general health of their children, to prevent colds, and to boost children’s immune systems. About half of the parents believed the NHPs helped, very few had noticed any side effects, and approximately half had informed their physicians that they were giving their children NHPs.
PMCID: PMC3743713  PMID: 23946043
19.  Patients’ perception, views and satisfaction with pharmacists’ role as health care provider in community pharmacy setting at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 
Objectives
This study will provide guiding information about the population perception, views and satisfaction with pharmacist’s performance as health care provider in the community pharmacy setting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Method
The study was conducted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from July through December 2010. A total of 125 community pharmacies in Riyadh city were randomly selected according to their geographical distribution (north, south, east, and west). They represent about 10–15% of all community pharmacies in the city. The questionnaire composed of 8 items about patients’ views and satisfaction with the pharmacists’ role in the current community pharmacy practice. The questionnaire was coded, checked for accuracy and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0 for Windows (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois).
Results
The response rate was almost 85% where 2000 patients were approached and 1699 of them responded to our questionnaire. The majority of respondents is young adults and adults (82.8%), male (67.5%) and married (66.9%). Seventy one percent of respondents assured that community pharmacist is available in the working while only 37.3% of respondents perceived the pharmacist as a mere vendor. About 38% assured sou moto counseling by the pharmacist, 35% reported pharmacist plays an active role in their compliances to treatments, 43% acknowledged the role of pharmacist in solving medication related problems, 34% considered the pharmacist as a health awareness provider and 44.6% felt that pharmacist is indispensable and an effective part of the health care system.
Conclusion
The image and professional performance of community pharmacist are improving in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi patients show better satisfaction, perception and appreciation of the pharmacists’ role in the health care team. However, extra efforts should be paid to improve the clinical skills of the community pharmacists. Community pharmacists need to be able to reach out to patient, assess their hesitations and promptly offer solution which was appreciated by the patients as the survey indicates. They should play a pro-active role in becoming an effective and indispensable part of health care. Furthermore, they should be able to advice, guide, direct and persuade the patient to comply correct usage of drugs. Finally, community pharmacists should equip themselves with appropriate knowledge and competencies in order to tender efficient and outstanding pharmaceutical health care.
doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2012.05.007
PMCID: PMC3745196  PMID: 23960807
Community; Pharmacist; Satisfaction; Care; Drug; Perception
20.  Pharmacy study of natural health product adverse reactions (SONAR): a cross-sectional study using active surveillance in community pharmacies to detect adverse events associated with natural health products and assess causality 
BMJ Open  2014;4(3):e003431.
Objectives
To investigate the rates and causality of adverse event(s) (AE) associated with natural health product (NHP) use, prescription drug use and concurrent NHP-drug use through active surveillance in community pharmacies.
Design
Cross-sectional study of screened patients.
Setting
10 community pharmacies across Alberta and British Columbia, Canada from 14 January to 30 July 2011.
Participants
The participating pharmacy staff screened consecutive patients, or agents of patients, who were dropping or picking up prescription medications.
Primary outcome measures
Patients were screened to determine the proportions of them using prescription drugs and/or NHPs, as well as their respective AE rates. All AEs reported by the screened patients who took a NHP, consented to, and were available for, a detailed telephone interview (14%) were adjudicated fully to assess for causality.
Results
Over a total of 105 pharmacy weeks and 1118 patients screened, 410 patients reported taking prescription drugs only (36.7%; 95% CI 33.9% to 39.5%), 37 reported taking NHPs only (3.3%; 95% CI 2.4% to 4.5%) and 657 reported taking prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently (58.8%; 95% CI 55.9% to 61.6%). In total, 54 patients reported an AE, representing 1.2% (95% CI 0.51% to 2.9%), 2.7% (95% CI 0.4% to 16.9%) and 7.3% (95% CI 5.6% to 9.6%) of each population, respectively. Compared with patients who reported using prescription drugs, the patients who reported using prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently were 6.4 times more likely to experience an AE (OR; 95% CI 2.52 to 16.17; p<0.001). Combined with data from Ontario, Canada, a national proportion was calculated, which found that 45.4% (95% CI 43.8% to 47.0%) of Canadians who visit community pharmacies take NHPs and prescription drugs concurrently, and of those, 7.4% (95% CI 6.3% to 8.8%) report an AE.
Conclusions
A substantial proportion of community pharmacy patients use prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently; these patients are at a greater risk of experiencing an AE. Active surveillance provides a means of detecting such AEs and collecting high-quality data on which causality assessment can be based.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003431
PMCID: PMC3975764  PMID: 24682573
Complementary Medicine; Toxicology
21.  Pharmacists’ Expectations for Entry-level Practitioner Competency 
Objective. To determine if defined subgroups of pharmacists’ have variability in their expectations for competency of entry-level practitioners.
Methods. Rating scale data collected from the 2009 National Pharmacy Practice Survey were analyzed to determine to what extent pharmacists' degree, practice setting, and experience as a preceptor were associated with the ratings they assigned to 43 competency statements for entry-level practitioners. The competency statements determine the content on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).
Results. Pharmacists with a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree rated the co mpetency statements higher in terms of criticality to entry-level practice than did those with a bachelor of science (BS) degree (p< 0.05). Pharmacists working in inpatient settings gave slightly higher ratings to the competency statements than did pharmacists working in outpatient settings, pharmacists without direct patient care responsibilities, and those in academia. However, there were no significant differences among practitioner subgroups' criticality ratings with regard to practice setting. Preceptor pharmacists' criticality ratings of the competency statements were not significantly different from those of non-preceptor practitioners.
Conclusion. Pharmacists exhibited a fair amount of agreement in their expectations for the competence of entry-level practitioners independent of their practice sites and professional roles. As the pharmacy profession embraces patient-centered clinical practice, evaluating practicing pharmacists’ expectations for entry-level practitioners will provide useful information to the practitioners and academicians involved in training future pharmacists. Stakeholders in pharmacy education and regulation have vested interests in the alignment of the education of future practitioners with the needs of the profession.
doi:10.5688/ajpe7715
PMCID: PMC3578337  PMID: 23459441
pharmacist; NAPLEX; competency; performance standards
22.  Use of natural health products in children 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(8):e372-e378.
Abstract
Objective
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.
Design
Qualitative study.
Setting
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Participants
Parents of children who were using NHPs (N = 20).
Methods
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).
Main findings
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.
Conclusion
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.
PMCID: PMC3743714  PMID: 23946044
23.  New Canadian natural health product regulations: a qualitative study of how CAM practitioners perceive they will be impacted 
Background
New Canadian policy to regulate natural health products (NHPs), such as herbs and vitamins were implemented on January 1st, 2004. We explored complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners' perceptions of how the new regulations may affect their practices and relationships with patients/consumers.
Methods
This was an applied ethnographic study. Data were collected in fall 2004 via qualitative interviews with 37 Canadian leaders of four CAM groups that use natural products as a core part of their practises: naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), homeopathic medicine and Western herbalism. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded independently by a minimum of two investigators using content analysis.
Results
Three key findings emerged from the data: 1) all CAM leaders were concerned with issues of their own access to NHPs; 2) all the CAM leaders, except for the homeopathic leaders, specifically indicated a desire to have a restricted schedule of NHPs; and 3) only naturopathic leaders were concerned the NHP regulations could potentially endanger patients if they self-medicate incorrectly.
Conclusion
Naturopaths, TCM practitioners, homeopaths, and Western herbalists were all concerned about how the new NHP regulations will affect their access to the products they need to practice effectively. Additional research will need to focus on what impacts actually occur as the regulations are implemented more fully.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-18
PMCID: PMC1481533  PMID: 16686960
24.  Tobacco sales in pharmacies: a survey of attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of pharmacists employed in student experiential and other worksites in Western New York 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:413.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-413
PMCID: PMC3492148  PMID: 22867129
Tobacco sales; Pharmacists; Preceptors; Public health policy; Survey research; Pharmacies
25.  Electronic transfer of prescription-related information: comparing views of patients, general practitioners, and pharmacists. 
BACKGROUND: The National Health Service (NHS) intends to introduce a system of electronic transfer of prescription-related information between general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacies. The NHS Plan describes how this will be achieved. AIM: To gather opinions of patients, GPs, and community pharmacists on the development of a system of electronic transfer of prescription-related information between GPs and community pharmacies. DESIGN OF STUDY: Survey combining interviews, focus groups, and postal questionnaires. SETTING: General practitioners, opinion leaders, computing experts, pharmacists, and patients. Eight hundred members of the public, 200 GPs, and 200 community pharmacists, all living in Scotland. METHOD: Content-setting interviews and focus groups were conducted with purposive samples of relevant groups. Postal questionnaires were developed and sent to random samples of members of the public selected from the electoral roll, GPs, and community pharmacists. RESULTS: The corrected postal response rates were: 69% (patients); 74% (GPs); and 74% (community pharmacists). All three groups were generally supportive of electronic transfer of prescription-related information. Different aspects appealed to each group: patients anticipated improved convenience; GPs, better repeat prescribing; and pharmacists, an enhanced professional role. Security of patient-identifiable information was the main concern. All groups acknowledged potential benefits of a full primary care information system, but GPs and patients had reservations about allowing community pharmacists to access parts of the medical record that did not concern medication. CONCLUSION: Electronic transfer of prescription-related information is likely to be acceptable to all users, but concerns about patient confidentiality and an extended role for pharmacists in prescription management need to be addressed.
PMCID: PMC1314545  PMID: 14694696

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