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1.  Cross-sector, sessional employment of pharmacists in rural hospitals in Australia and New Zealand: a qualitative study exploring pharmacists’ perceptions and experiences 
Background
Many rural hospitals in Australia and New Zealand do not have an on-site pharmacist. Sessional employment of a local pharmacist offers a potential solution to address the clinical service needs of non-pharmacist rural hospitals. This study explored sessional service models involving pharmacists and factors (enablers and challenges) impacting on these models, with a view to informing future sessional employment.
Methods
A series of semi-structured one-on-one interviews was conducted with rural pharmacists with experience, or intention to practise, in a sessional employment role in Australia and New Zealand. Participants were identified via relevant newsletters, discussion forums and referrals from contacts. Interviews were conducted during August 2012-January 2013 via telephone or Skype™, for approximately 40–55 minutes each, and recorded.
Results
Seventeen pharmacists were interviewed: eight with ongoing sessional roles, five with sessional experience, and four working towards sessional employment. Most participants provided sessional hospital services on a weekly basis, mainly focusing on inpatient medication review and consultation. Recognition of the value of pharmacists’ involvement and engagement with other healthcare providers facilitated establishment and continuity of sessional services. Funds pooled from various sources supplemented some pharmacists’ remuneration in the absence of designated government funding. Enhanced employment opportunities, district support and flexibility in services facilitated the continuous operation of the sessional service.
Conclusions
There is potential to address clinical pharmacy service needs in rural hospitals by cross-sector employment of pharmacists. The reported sessional model arrangements, factors impacting on sessional employment of pharmacists and learnings shared by the participants should assist development of similar models in other rural communities.
doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0567-4
PMCID: PMC4236748  PMID: 25391333
Clinical pharmacy; Hospital; Medication management; Pharmacist; Rural; Sessional; Service models; Qualitative
2.  Widening Consumer Access to Medicines through Switching Medicines to Non-Prescription: A Six Country Comparison 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107726.
Background
Switching or reclassifying medicines with established safety profiles from prescription to non-prescription aims to increase timely consumer access to medicines, reduce under-treatment and enhance self-management. However, risks include suboptimal therapy and adverse effects. With a long-standing government policy supporting switching or reclassifying medicines from prescription to non-prescription, the United Kingdom is believed to lead the world in switch, but evidence for this is inconclusive. Interest in switching medicines for certain long-term conditions has arisen in the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe, but such switches have been contentious. The objective of this study was then to provide a comprehensive comparison of progress in switch for medicines across six developed countries: the United States; the United Kingdom; Australia; Japan; the Netherlands; and New Zealand.
Methods
A list of prescription-to-non-prescription medicine switches was systematically compiled. Three measures were used to compare switch activity across the countries: “progressive” switches from 2003 to 2013 (indicating incremental consumer benefit over current non-prescription medicines); “first-in-world” switches from 2003 to 2013; and switch date comparisons for selected medicines.
Results
New Zealand was the most active in progressive switches from 2003 to 2013, with the United Kingdom and Japan not far behind. The United States, Australia and the Netherlands showed the least activity in this period. Few medicines for long-term conditions were switched, even in the United Kingdom and New Zealand where first-in-world switches were most likely. Switch of certain medicines took considerably longer in some countries than others. For example, a consumer in the United Kingdom could self-medicate with a non-sedating antihistamine 19 years earlier than a consumer in the United States.
Conclusion
Proactivity in medicines switching, most notably in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, questions missed opportunities to enhance consumers' self-management in countries such as the United States.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107726
PMCID: PMC4175460  PMID: 25251434
3.  Interventions to Assist Health Consumers to Find Reliable Online Health Information: A Comprehensive Review 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94186.
Background
Health information on the Internet is ubiquitous, and its use by health consumers prevalent. Finding and understanding relevant online health information, and determining content reliability, pose real challenges for many health consumers.
Purpose
To identify the types of interventions that have been implemented to assist health consumers to find reliable online health information, and where possible, describe and compare the types of outcomes studied.
Data Sources
PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus and Cochrane Library databases; WorldCat and Scirus ‘gray literature’ search engines; and manual review of reference lists of selected publications.
Study Selection
Publications were selected by firstly screening title, abstract, and then full text.
Data Extraction
Seven publications met the inclusion criteria, and were summarized in a data extraction form. The form incorporated the PICOS (Population Intervention Comparators Outcomes and Study Design) Model. Two eligible gray literature papers were also reported.
Data Synthesis
Relevant data from included studies were tabulated to enable descriptive comparison. A brief critique of each study was included in the tables. This review was unable to follow systematic review methods due to the paucity of research and humanistic interventions reported.
Limitations
While extensive, the gray literature search may have had limited reach in some countries. The paucity of research on this topic limits conclusions that may be drawn.
Conclusions
The few eligible studies predominantly adopted a didactic approach to assisting health consumers, whereby consumers were either taught how to find credible websites, or how to use the Internet. Common types of outcomes studied include knowledge and skills pertaining to Internet use and searching for reliable health information. These outcomes were predominantly self-assessed by participants. There is potential for further research to explore other avenues for assisting health consumers to find reliable online health information, and to assess outcomes via objective measures.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094186
PMCID: PMC3978031  PMID: 24710348
4.  Experiences of community pharmacists involved in the delivery of a specialist asthma service in Australia 
Background
The role of community pharmacists in disease state management has been mooted for some years. Despite a number of trials of disease state management services, there is scant literature into the engagement of, and with, pharmacists in such trials. This paper reports pharmacists’ feedback as providers of a Pharmacy Asthma Management Service (PAMS), a trial coordinated across four academic research centres in Australia in 2009. We also propose recommendations for optimal involvement of pharmacists in academic research.
Methods
Feedback about the pharmacists’ experiences was sought via their participation in either a focus group or telephone interview (for those unable to attend their scheduled focus group) at one of three time points. A semi-structured interview guide focused discussion on the pharmacists’ training to provide the asthma service, their interactions with health professionals and patients as per the service protocol, and the future for this type of service. Focus groups were facilitated by two researchers, and the individual interviews were shared between three researchers, with data transcribed verbatim and analysed manually.
Results
Of 93 pharmacists who provided the PAMS, 25 were involved in a focus group and seven via telephone interview. All pharmacists approached agreed to provide feedback. In general, the pharmacists engaged with both the service and research components, and embraced their roles as innovators in the trial of a new service. Some experienced challenges in the recruitment of patients into the service and the amount of research-related documentation, and collaborative patient-centred relationships with GPs require further attention. Specific service components, such as the spirometry, were well received by the pharmacists and their patients. Professional rewards included satisfaction from their enhanced practice, and pharmacists largely envisaged a future for the service.
Conclusions
The PAMS provided pharmacists an opportunity to become involved in an innovative service delivery model, supported by the researchers, yet trained and empowered to implement the clinical service throughout the trial period and beyond. The balance between support and independence appeared crucial in the pharmacists’ engagement with the trial. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive, while useful suggestions were identified for future academic trials.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-164
PMCID: PMC3439711  PMID: 22709371
Pharmacy; Asthma; Disease management service; Experiences; Feedback

Results 1-4 (4)