Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are responsible for significant morbidity, premature mortality, and economic burden. Despite established evidence that supports the use of preventive medications among patients at high CVD risk, treatment gaps remain. Building on prior evidence and a theoretical framework, a complex intervention has been designed to address these gaps among high-risk, under-treated patients in the Australian primary care setting. This intervention comprises a general practice quality improvement tool incorporating clinical decision support and audit/feedback capabilities; availability of a range of CVD polypills (fixed-dose combinations of two blood pressure lowering agents, a statin ± aspirin) for prescription when appropriate; and access to a pharmacy-based program to support long-term medication adherence and lifestyle modification.
Following a systematic development process, the intervention will be evaluated in a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial including 70 general practices for a median period of 18 months. The 35 general practices in the intervention group will work with a nominated partner pharmacy, whereas those in the control group will provide usual care without access to the intervention tools. The primary outcome is the proportion of patients at high CVD risk who were inadequately treated at baseline who achieve target blood pressure (BP) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels at the study end. The outcomes will be analyzed using data from electronic medical records, utilizing a validated extraction tool. Detailed process and economic evaluations will also be performed.
The study intends to establish evidence about an intervention that combines technological innovation with team collaboration between patients, pharmacists, and general practitioners (GPs) for CVD prevention.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12616000233426
Cardiovascular disease; General practitioners; Pharmacists; Clinical decision support system; Polypill; Primary health care
Objective. To develop and test a conceptual model that hypothesized student intention to undertake a higher degree in pharmacy practice research (PPR) would be increased by self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, and the social influence of faculty members.
Methods. Cross-sectional surveys were completed by 387 final-year pharmacy undergraduates enrolled in 2012 and 2013. Structural equation modeling was used to explore relationships between variables and intention.
Results. Fit indices were good. The model explained 55% of the variation in intention. As hypothesized, faculty social influence increased self-efficacy and indirectly increased outcome expectancy and intention.
Conclusion. To increase pharmacy students’ orientation towards a career in PPR, faculty members could use their social influence by highlighting PPR in their teaching.
Students; pharmacy; practice research; self-confidence; social norms; psychosocial
Objective. To develop, implement, and evaluate a competency-based weight management skills workshop for undergraduate pharmacy students in an Australian university.
Design. A 3-hour workshop titled “Weight Management in Pharmacy” was implemented with a cohort of fourth-year undergraduate pharmacy students (n=180). Learning activities used included case-based learning, hands-on experience, role-play, and group discussion.
Assessment. A 22-item attitudinal survey instrument and the validated Obesity Risk Knowledge (ORK-10) scale were administered at baseline and postworkshop to evaluate the impact of this educational workshop. There was significant improvement in the students’ ORK scores and students’ perceived level of self-confidence in performing weight management skills.
Conclusion. An educational workshop designed to enhance professional competencies in weight management ensured graduates were “service-ready” and had the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attributes to deliver patient-centered pharmacy-based weight management services.
weight management; pharmacy student; competency-based workshop
Suboptimal utilisation of pharmacotherapy, non-adherence to prescribed treatment, and a lack of monitoring all contribute to poor blood (BP) pressure control in patients with hypertension.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the implementation of a pharmacist-led hypertension management service in terms of processes, outcomes, and methodological challenges.
A prospective, controlled study was undertaken within the Australian primary care setting. Community pharmacists were recruited to one of three study groups: Group A (Control – usual care), Group B (Intervention), or Group C (Short Intervention). Pharmacists in Groups B and C delivered a service comprising screening and monitoring of BP, as well as addressing poor BP control through therapeutic adjustment and adherence strategies. Pharmacists in Group C delivered the shortened version of the service.
Significant changes to key outcome measures were observed in Group C: reduction in systolic and diastolic BPs at the 3-month visit (P<0.01 and P<0.01, respectively), improvement in medication adherence scores (P=0.01), and a slight improvement in quality of life (EQ-5D-3L Index) scores (P=0.91). There were no significant changes in Group B (the full intervention), and no differences in comparison to Group A (usual care). Pharmacists fed-back that patient recruitment was a key barrier to service implementation, highlighting the methodological implications of screening.
A collaborative, pharmacist-led hypertension management service can help monitor BP, improve medication adherence, and optimise therapy in a step-wise approach. However, blood pressure screening can effect behaviour change in patients, presenting methodological challenges in the evaluation of services in this context.
Hypertension; Community Pharmacy Services; Interprofessional Relations; Medication Adherence; Medication Therapy Management; Methodology; Australia
Pharmacists and general practitioners (GPs) face an increasing expectation to collaborate interprofessionally on a number of healthcare issues, including medication non-adherence. This study aimed to propose a model of interprofessional collaboration within the context of identifying and improving medication non-adherence in primary care.
Primary care; Sydney, Australia.
3 focus groups were conducted with pharmacists (n=23) and 3 with GPs (n=22) working in primary care.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Qualitative investigation of GP and pharmacist interactions with each other, and specifically around supporting their patients’ medication adherence. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and transcripts thematically analysed using a combination of manual and computer coding.
3 themes pertaining to interprofessional collaboration were identified (1) frequency, (2) co-collaborators and (3) nature of communication which included 2 subthemes (method of communication and type of communication). While the frequency of interactions was low, the majority were conducted by telephone. Interactions, especially those conducted face-to-face, were positive. Only a few related to patient non-adherence. The findings are positioned within contemporary collaborative theory and provide an accessible introduction to models of interprofessional collaboration.
This work highlighted that successful collaboration to improve medication adherence was underpinned by shared paradigmatic perspectives and trust, constructed through regular, face-to-face interactions between pharmacists and GPs.
medication adherence; inter-professional relations; cooperative behaviour; physicians; pharmacists
Clinicians have expressed a need for tools to assist in selecting treatments for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of a computerized antithrombotic risk assessment tool (CARAT) on general practitioners’ prescribing of antithrombotics for patients with atrial fibrillation.
A prospective, cluster-randomized controlled trial was conducted in 4 regions (in rural and urban settings) of general practice in New South Wales, Australia (January 2012–June 2013). General practitioner practices were assigned to an intervention arm (CARAT) or control arm (usual care). Antithrombotic therapy prescribing was assessed before and after application of CARAT.
Overall, the antithrombotic therapies for 393 patients were reviewed by 48 general practitioners; we found no significant baseline differences in use of antithrombotics between the control arm and intervention arm. Compared with control patients, intervention patients (n = 206) were 3.1 times more likely to be recommended warfarin therapy (over any other treatment option; P < .001) and 2.8 times more likely to be recommended any anticoagulant (in preference to antiplatelet; P = .02). General practitioners agreed with most (75.2%) CARAT recommendations; CARAT recommended that 75 (36.4%) patients change therapy. After application of CARAT, the proportion of patients receiving any antithrombotic therapy was unchanged from baseline (99.0%); however, anticoagulant use increased slightly (from 89.3% to 92.2%), and antiplatelet use decreased (from 9.7% to 6.8%).
Tools such as CARAT can assist clinicians in selecting antithrombotic therapies, particularly in upgrading patients from antiplatelets to anticoagulants. However, the introduction of novel oral anticoagulants has complicated the decision-making process, and tools must evolve to weigh the risks and benefits of these new therapy options.
Recent attention to the management of atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke prevention has emphasised the need to support the use of existing pharmacotherapy through available services and resources, in preference to using the new, more expensive, novel oral anticoagulants. In this regard, general practitioners (GPs) are at the core of care.
To survey Australian GPs regarding their approach to managing AF, particularly in relation to stroke prevention therapy, and to identify the range of services to support patient care.
A structured questionnaire, comprising quantitative and qualitative responses, was administered to participating GPs within four geographical regions of NSW (metropolitan, regional, rural areas).
Fifty GPs (mean age 53.74±9.94 years) participated. Most (98 per cent) GPs regarded themselves as primarily responsible for the management of AF, only referring patients to specialists when needed. However, only 10 per cent of GPs specialised in “heart/vascular health”. Most (76 per cent) GPs offered point-of-care international normalised ratio (INR) testing, with 90 per cent also offering patient support via practice nurses and home visits. Overall, key determinants influencing GPs’ initiation of antithrombotic therapy were: “stroke risk”/”CHADS2 score”, followed by “patients’ adherence/compliance”. GPs focused more on medication safety considerations and the day-to-day management of therapy than on the risk of bleeding.
Australian GPs are actively engaged in managing AF, and appear to be well resourced. Importantly, there is a greater focus on the benefits of therapy during decision-making, rather than on the risks. However, medication safety considerations affecting routine management of therapy remain key concerns, with patients’ adherence to therapy a major determinant in decision-making.
Atrial fibrillation; stroke prevention; general practitioners; pharmacotherapy; antiarrhythmic; antithrombotic
Hypertension is the leading modifiable cause of mortality worldwide. Unlike many conditions where limited evidence exists for management of older individuals, multiple large, robust trials have provided a solid evidence-base regarding the management of hypertension in older adults. Understanding the impact of age on how the prevalence of hypertension and the role of pharmacotherapy in managing hypertension among older persons is a critical element is the provision of optimal health care for older populations. The aim of this study was to explore how the prevalence of hypertension changes with age, the evidence regarding pharmacological management in older adults and to identify known barriers to the optimal management of hypertension in older patients.
A review of English language studies published prior to 2013 in Medline, Embase and Google scholar was conducted. Key search terms included hypertension, pharmacotherapy, and aged.
The prevalence of hypertension was shown to increase with age, however there is good evidence for the use of a number of pharmacological agents to control blood pressure in older populations. System, physician and patient related barriers to optimal blood pressure control were identified.
Despite good evidence for pharmacological management of hypertension among olderpopulations, under treatment of hypertension is an issue. Concerns regarding adverse effects appearcentral to under treatment of hypertension among older populations.
Hypertension; Older adults; Prevalence; Pharmacotherapy; Drug utilization
Non-adherence to medicines by patients and suboptimal prescribing by clinicians underpin poor blood pressure (BP) control in hypertension. In this study, a training program was designed to enable community pharmacists to deliver a service in hypertension management targeting therapeutic adjustments and medication adherence. A comprehensive evaluation of the training program was undertaken.
Tailored training comprising a self-directed pre-work manual, practical workshop (using real patients), and practice scenarios, was developed and delivered by an inter-professional team (pharmacists, GPs). Supported by practical and written assessment, the training focused on the principles of BP management, BP measurement skills, and adherence strategies. Pharmacists’ experience of the training (expectations, content, format, relevance) was evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively. Immediate feedback was obtained via a questionnaire comprising Likert scales (1 = “very well” to 7 = “poor”) and open-ended questions. Further in-depth qualitative evaluation was undertaken via semi-structured interviews several months post-training (and post service implementation).
Seventeen pharmacists were recruited, trained and assessed as competent. All were highly satisfied with the training; other than the ‘amount of information provided’ (median score = 5, “just right”), all aspects of training attained the most positive score of ‘1’. Pharmacists most valued the integrated team-based approach, GP involvement, and inclusion of real patients, as well as the pre-reading manual, BP measurement workshop, and case studies (simulation). Post-implementation the interviews highlighted that comprehensive training increased pharmacists’ confidence in providing the service, however, training of other pharmacy staff and patient recruitment strategies were highlighted as a need in future.
Structured, multi-modal training involving simulated and inter-professional learning is effective in preparing selected community pharmacists for the implementation of new services in the context of hypertension management. This training could be further enhanced to prepare pharmacists for the challenges encountered in implementing and evaluating services in practice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0434-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Hypertension; Pharmacist; Prescribing; Training; Interprofessional; Adherence
Little is known about the impact of hospitalization on antihypertensive pharmacotherapy and blood pressure control in older persons.
The aim of this study was to explore the impact of hospitalization on the management of hypertension and antihypertensive pharmacotherapy in a cohort of older patients with a documented diagnosis of hypertension.
A retrospective, cross-sectional medical record audit was conducted in a large Australian metropolitan teaching hospital. Patients aged 65 years or older, admitted between January 1st 2010 and December 31st 2010, and with a documented diagnosis of hypertension in their medical record were included in the study. Antihypertensive pharmacotherapy and blood pressure control was compared between admission and discharge. Factors associated with changes to antihypertensive pharmacotherapy were identified.
Changes to antihypertensive pharmacotherapy occurred in 39.5 % (n = 135) of patients (n = 342). On discharge, the proportion of patients receiving antihypertensive pharmacotherapy (89.0 vs 85.3 %, p < 0.0001) and the mean number of antihypertensive agents per patient (1.7 ± 1.1 vs 1.5 ± 1.1, p < 0.0001) declined compared with admission. Adverse drug reactions [odds ratio (OR) = 5, 95 % confidence interval (CI): 2.80–9.34] were the main reason documented for antihypertensive pharmacotherapy changes. Patients admitted under the care of medical (OR = 0.3, 95 % CI: 0.17–0.70) or surgical (OR = 0.3, 95 % CI: 0.12–0.53) specialties were less likely to experience changes to their antihypertensive pharmacotherapy than those treated by gerontology or cardiology teams.
Hospitalization has a significant impact on antihypertensive pharmacotherapy. Two out of every five older persons on antihypertensive medications will experience changes to their regimens during admission to hospital with most changes in antihypertensive pharmacotherapy due to adverse drug reactions.
Evidence supports the efficacy of pharmacy services in type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, little is known about consumer perspectives on the role of community pharmacists in diabetes care. The objectives of this study were to identify potential unmet needs and explore preferences for pharmacist-delivered support for T2D.
A qualitative study using focus groups was conducted in Sydney, Australia. Patients with T2D who were members of the Australian Diabetes Council in Sydney, Australia, were recruited through a survey on medication use in T2D. Five focus groups with a total of 32 consumers with T2D were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed.
The key themes were 1) the experiences of diabetes services received, 2) the potential to deliver self-management services, and 3) the suggested role of pharmacist in supporting diabetes management. Gaps in understanding and some degree of nonadherence to self-management signaled a potential for self-management support delivered by pharmacists. However, consumers still perceive that the main role of pharmacists in diabetes care centers on drug management services, with some enhancements to support adherence and continuity of supply. Barriers to diabetes care services included time constraints and a perceived lack of interest by pharmacists.
Given the unmet needs in diabetes self-management, opportunities exist for pharmacists to be involved in diabetes care. The challenge is for pharmacists to upgrade their diabetes knowledge and skills, organize their workflow, and become proactive in delivering diabetes care support.
diabetes care; community pharmacy; community pharmacist; self-management; preference
We explored factors influencing Indonesian primary care pharmacists’ practice in chronic noncommunicable disease management and proposed a model illustrating relationships among factors.
We conducted in-depth, semistructured interviews with pharmacists working in community health centers (Puskesmas, n=5) and community pharmacies (apotek, n=15) in East Java Province. We interviewed participating pharmacists using Bahasa Indonesia to explore facilitators and barriers to their practice in chronic disease management. We audiorecorded all interviews, transcribed ad verbatim, translated into English and analyzed the data using an approach informed by “grounded-theory”.
We extracted five emergent themes/factors: pharmacists’ attitudes, Puskesmas/apotek environment, pharmacy education, pharmacy professional associations, and the government. Respondents believed that primary care pharmacists have limited roles in chronic disease management. An unfavourable working environment and perceptions of pharmacists’ inadequate knowledge and skills were reported by many as barriers to pharmacy practice. Limited professional standards, guidelines, leadership and government regulations coupled with low expectations of pharmacists among patients and doctors also contributed to their lack of involvement in chronic disease management. We present the interplay of these factors in our model.
Pharmacists’ attitudes, knowledge, skills and their working environment appeared to influence pharmacists’ contribution in chronic disease management. To develop pharmacists’ involvement in chronic disease management, support from pharmacy educators, pharmacy owners, professional associations, the government and other stakeholders is required. Our findings highlight a need for systematic coordination between pharmacists and stakeholders to improve primary care pharmacists’ practice in Indonesia to achieve continuity of care.
Community Pharmacy Services; Professional Practice; Attitude of Health Personnel; Qualitative Research; Indonesia
To (1) investigate the relationships between students’ characteristics and their (a) perceptions of research in general and (b) attitudes towards pharmacy practice research; (2) identify strategies that could be used by pharmacy educators to promote research interest in pharmacy practice; and (3) identify perceived barriers to the pursuit or completion of a pharmacy practice research degree.
A survey was administered to all students enrolled in each year of the four-year pharmacy undergraduate program, University of Sydney, Australia. Perceptions of research in general were measured using 4 items on a five-point semantic-differential scale and attitudes towards pharmacy practice research were measured using 16 items on a five-point Likert scale. Student characteristics were also collected as were responses to open-ended questions which were analysed using content analysis.
In total 853 students participated and completed the survey (83% response rate). Participants’ characteristics were associated with some but not all aspects of research and pharmacy practice research. It appeared that positive attitudes and perspectives were influenced strongly by exposure to the ‘research’ process through projects, friends or mentors, previous degrees or having future intentions to pursue a research degree. Results from both the quantitative and qualitative analyses suggest positive attitudes and perceptions of research can be nurtured through the formal inclusion in research processes, particularly the utility of practice research in clinical practice across the four years of study. Participants indicated there was a lack of awareness of the needs, benefits and career opportunities associated with pharmacy practice research and voiced clear impediments in their career path with respect to the choice of practice research-related careers.
Future research should investigate changes in perceptions and attitudes in a single cohort over the four-year degree, other factors influencing students’ perceptions and attitudes, and evaluate the effectiveness of research promoting strategies and programs.
Research; Career Choice; Attitude; Education; Pharmacy; Students; Pharmacy; Australia
Pharmacists in Australia are accessible health care professionals, and their provision of clinical pharmacy interventions in a range of areas has been proven to improve patient outcomes. Individual clinical pharmacy interventions in the area of asthma management have been very successful. An understanding of the nature of these interventions will inform future pharmacy services. What we do not know is when pharmacists provide a complex asthma service, what elements of that service (interventions) they choose to deliver.
To explore the scope and frequency of asthma-related clinical interventions provided by pharmacists to patients in an evidence-based complex asthma service.
Pharmacists from 4 states/territories of Australia were trained in asthma management. People with asthma had 3 or 4 visits to the pharmacy. Guided by a structured patient file, the pharmacist assessed the patient’s asthma and management and provided interventions where and when considered appropriate, based on their clinical decision making skills. The interventions were recorded in a checklist in the patient file. They were then analysed descriptively and thematically.
Pharmacists provided 22,909 clinical pharmacy interventions over the service to 570 patients (398 of whom completed the service). The most frequently delivered interventions were in the themes ’Education on asthma’, ’Addressing trigger factors’, ’Medications - safe and effective use’ and ’Explore patient perspectives’. The patients had a high and ongoing need for interventions. Pharmacists selected interventions based on their assessment of perceived need then revisited and reinforced these interventions.
Pharmacists identified a number of areas in which patients required interventions to assist with their asthma management. Many of these were perceived to require continuing reinforcement over the duration of the service. Pharmacists were able to use their clinical judgement to assess patients and provide clinical pharmacy interventions across a range of asthma management needs.
Asthma; Pharmaceutical Services; Pharmacists; Evidence-Based Practice; Australia
Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are an important health issue. While prevalence and risk factors associated with ADRs in the general adult population have been well documented, much less is known about ADRs in the elderly population. The aim of this study was to review the published literature to estimate the prevalence of ADRs in the elderly in the acute care setting and identify factors associated with an increased risk of an ADR in the elderly. A systematic review of studies published between 2003 and 2013 was conducted in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EMBASE, Google Scholar and MEDLINE. Key search terms included: “adverse drug reactions”, “adverse effects”, “elderly patients and hospital admission”, “drug therapy”, “drug adverse effects”, “drug related”, “aged”, “older patients”, “geriatric”, “hospitalization”, and “emergency admissions”. For inclusion in the review, studies had to focus on ADRs in the elderly and had to include an explicit definition of what was considered an ADR and/or an explicit assessment of causality, and a clear description of the method used for ADR identification, and had to describe factors associated with an increased risk of an ADR. Fourteen hospital-based observational studies exploring ADRs in the elderly in the acute care setting were eligible for inclusion in this review. The mean prevalence of ADRs in the elderly in the studies included in this review was 11.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.1%–16.8%). The median prevalence of ADRs leading to hospitalization was 10.0% (95% CI: 7.2%–12.8%), while the prevalence of ADRs occurring during hospitalization was 11.5% (95% CI: 0%–27.7%). There was wide variation in the overall ADR prevalence, from 5.8% to 46.3%. Female sex, increased comorbid complexity, and increased number of medications were all significantly associated with an increased risk of an ADR. Retrospective studies and those relying on identification by the usual treating team reported lower prevalence rates. From this review, we can conclude that ADRs constitute a significant health issue for the elderly in the acute care setting. While there was wide variation in the prevalence of ADRs in the elderly, based on the findings of this study, at least one in ten elderly patients will experience an ADR leading to or during their hospital stay. Older female patients and those with multiple comorbidities and medications appear to be at the highest risk of an ADR in the acute care setting.
drug utilization; hospital
As primary healthcare professionals, community pharmacists have both opportunity and potential to contribute to the prevention and progression of chronic diseases. Using cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a case study, we explored factors that influence community pharmacists’ everyday practice in this area. We also propose a model to best illustrate relationships between influencing factors and the scope of community pharmacy practice in the care of clients with established CVD.
In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 community pharmacists in New South Wales, Australia. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed ad verbatim, and analysed using a “grounded-theory” approach.
Our model shows that community pharmacists work within a complex system and their practice is influenced by interactions between three main domains: the “people” factors, including their own attitudes and beliefs as well as those of clients and doctors; the “environment” within and beyond the control of community pharmacy; and outcomes of their professional care. Despite the complexity of factors and interactions, our findings shed some light on the interrelationships between these various influences. The overarching obstacle to maximizing the community pharmacists’ contribution is the lack of integration within health systems. However, achieving better integration of community pharmacists in primary care is a challenge since the systems of remuneration for healthcare professional services do not currently support this integration.
Tackling chronic diseases such as CVD requires mobilization of all sources of support in the community through innovative policies which facilitate inter-professional collaboration and team care to achieve the best possible healthcare outcomes for society.
Background Obesity is a public health challenge faced worldwide. Community pharmacists may be well placed to manage Australia’s obesity problem owing to their training, accessibility and trustworthiness. However, determining consumers’ needs is vital to the development of any new services or the evaluation of existing services.
Objective To explore Australian consumers’ perspectives regarding weight management services in the community pharmacy setting, including their past experiences and willingness to pay for a specific pharmacy‐based service.
Design An online cross‐sectional consumer survey was distributed through a marketing research company. The survey instrument comprised open‐ended and closed questions exploring consumers’ experiences of and preferences for weight management services in pharmacy. It also included an attitudinal measure, the Consumer Attitude to Pharmacy Weight Management Services (CAPWMS) scale.
Setting and participants A total of 403 consumers from New South Wales, Australia, completed the survey.
Results The majority of respondents had previously not sought a pharmacist’s advice regarding weight management. Those who had previously consulted a pharmacist were more willing to pay for and support pharmacy‐based services in the future. Most consumers considered pharmacists’ motivations to provide advice related to gaining profit from selling a product and expressed concerns about the perceived conflicts of interest. Participants also perceived pharmacists as lacking expertise and time.
Conclusion Although Australian consumers were willing to seek pharmacists’ advice about weight management, they perceived several barriers to the provision of weight management services in community pharmacy. If barriers are addressed, community pharmacies could be a viable and accessible setting to manage obesity.
consumers; obesity; pharmacists; pharmacy; pharmacy services; weight management
Community pharmacies may potentially assist in screening for chronic conditions such as sleep disorders, which remain both under-diagnosed and untreated. We aimed to compare a subjective risk-assessment-only questionnaire (RAO) for common sleep disorder screening against the same risk-assessment questionnaire plus a nasal flow monitor as an objective marker of possible underlying obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (RA+) in a community pharmacy setting. The primary outcome was the number of participants identified in RAO or RA+ group who were likely to have and consequently be diagnosed with OSA. Further outcomes included the number of participants identified as being at risk for, referred for, taking-up referral for, and then diagnosed with OSA, insomnia, and/or restless legs syndrome (RLS) in either group.
In a cluster-randomized trial, participants were recruited through 23 community pharmacies. Using validated instruments, 325 (RAO = 152, RA+ = 173) participants were screened for OSA, insomnia, and RLS.
218 (67%) participants were at risk of OSA, insomnia or RLS and these participants were referred to their primary physician. The proportion of screened participants identified as being at risk of OSA was significantly higher in the RA+ group (36% in RAO vs. 66% in RA+, OR 3.4, 95% CI (1.8–6.5), p<0.001). A 12-month follow-up was completed in 125 RAO and 155 RA+ participants. Actual referral uptake was 34% RAO, 26% RA+, OR 4.4, 95% CI (1.4–19.2), p = 0.31. The OSA diagnosis rate was higher in the RA+ arm (p = 0.01). To yield a single additional confirmed OSA diagnosis, 16 people would need to be screened using the RA+ protocol.
These results demonstrate that utilising either screening method is feasible in identifying individuals in the community pharmacy setting who are likely to have OSA, insomnia and/or RLS. Secondly, adding an objective marker of OSA to a questionnaire-based prediction tool resulted in more confirmed OSA diagnoses.
: ACTR.org.au ACTRN12608000628347
Therapy for stroke prevention in older persons with atrial fibrillation (AF) is underutilized despite evidence to support its effectiveness. To prevent stroke in this high-risk population, antithrombotic treatment is necessary. Given the challenges and inherent risks of antithrombotic therapy, decision-making is particularly complex for clinicians, necessitating comprehensive risk:benefit assessments. Targeted interventions are urgently needed to support clinicians in this context; the Computerized Antithrombotic Risk Assessment Tool (CARAT) offers a unique approach to this clinical problem.
This study (a prospective, cluster-randomized controlled clinical trial) will be conducted across selected regions in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Fifty GPs will be randomized to either the ‘intervention’ or ‘control’ arm, with each GP recruiting 10 patients (aged ≥65 with AF); target sample size is 500 patients. GPs in the intervention arm will use CARAT during routine patient consultations to: assess risk factors for stroke, bleeding and medication misadventure; quantify the risk/benefit ratio of antithrombotic treatment, identify the recommended therapy, and decide on the treatment course, for an individual patient. CARAT will be applied by the GP at baseline and repeated at 12 months to identify any changes to treatment requirements. At baseline, the participant (patients and GPs) characteristics will be recorded, as well as relevant practice and clinical parameters. Patient follow up will occur at 1, 6, and 12 months via telephone interview to identify changes to therapy, medication side effects, or clinical events.
This project tests the utility of a novel decision support tool (CARAT) in improving the use of preventative therapy to reduce the significant burden of stroke. Importantly, it targets the interface of patient care (general practice), addresses the at-risk population, evaluates clinical outcomes, and offers a tool that may be sustainable via integration into prescribing software and primary care services. GP support and guidance in identifying at risk patients for the appropriate selection of therapy is widely acknowledged. This trial will evaluate the impact of CARAT on the prescription of antithrombotic therapy, its longer-term impact on clinical outcomes including stroke and bleeding, and clinicians perceived utility of CARAT in practice.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613000060741.
Stroke; Atrial fibrillation; Warfarin; Bleeding; Antithrombotic therapy; General practice; GP; Decision support; Risk assessment
Thrombolysis remains the only approved therapy for acute ischaemic stroke (AIS); however, its utilisation is reported to be low.
This study aimed to determine the reasons for the low utilisation of thrombolysis in clinical practice.
Five metropolitan hospitals comprising two tertiary referral centres and three district hospitals conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional study. Researchers identified patients discharged with a principal diagnosis of AIS over a 12-month time period (July 2009–July 2010), and reviewed the medical record of systematically chosen samples.
The research team reviewed a total of 521 records (48.8% females, mean age 74.4 ± 14 years, age range 5-102 years) from the 1261 AIS patients. Sixty-nine per cent of AIS patients failed to meet eligibility criteria to receive thrombolysis because individuals arrived at the hospital later than 4.5 hours after the onset of symptoms. The factors found to be positively associated with late arrival included confusion at onset, absence of a witness at onset and waiting for improvement of symptoms. However, factors negatively associated with late arrival encompassed facial droop, slurred speech and immediately calling an ambulance. Only 14.7% of the patients arriving within 4.5 hours received thrombolysis. The main reasons for exclusion included such factors as rapidly improving symptoms (28.2%), minor symptoms (17.2%), patient receiving therapeutic anticoagulation (6.7%) and severe stroke (5.5%).
A late patient presentation represents the most significant barrier to utilising thrombolysis in the acute stroke setting. Thrombolysis continues to be currently underutilised in potentially eligible patients, and additional research is needed to identify more precise criteria for selecting patients for thrombolysis.
Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA); Alteplase; Thrombolysis; Stroke; Cerebrovascular accident
Community Pharmacists and General Practitioners (GPs) are increasingly being encouraged to adopt more collaborative approaches to health care delivery as collaboration in primary care has been shown to be effective in improving patient outcomes. However, little is known about pharmacist attitudes towards collaborating with their GP counterparts and variables that influence this interprofessional collaboration. This study aims to develop and validate 1) an instrument to measure pharmacist attitudes towards collaboration with GPs and 2) a model that illustrates how pharmacist attitudes (and other variables) influence collaborative behaviour with GPs.
A questionnaire containing the newly developed “Attitudes Towards Collaboration Instrument for Pharmacists” (ATCI-P) and a previously validated behavioural measure “Frequency of Interprofessional Collaboration Instrument for Pharmacists” (FICI-P) was administered to a sample of 1215 Australian pharmacists. The ATCI-P was developed based on existing literature and qualitative interviews with GPs and community pharmacists. Principal Component Analysis was used to assess the structure of the ATCI-P and the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was used to assess the internal consistency of the instrument. Structural equation modelling was used to determine how pharmacist attitudes (as measured by the ATCI-P) and other variables, influence collaborative behaviour (as measured by the FICI-P).
Four hundred and ninety-two surveys were completed and returned for a response rate of 40%. Principal Component Analysis revealed the ATCI-P consisted of two factors: ‘interactional determinants’ and ‘practitioner determinants’, both with good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .90 and .93 respectively). The model demonstrated adequate fit (χ2/df = 1.89, CFI = .955, RMSEA = .062, 90% CI [.049-.074]) and illustrated that ‘interactional determinants’ was the strongest predictor of collaboration and was in turn influenced by ‘practitioner determinants’. The extent of the pharmacist’s contact with physicians during their pre-registration training was also found to be a significant predictor of collaboration (B = .23, SE = .43, p <.001).
The results of the study provide evidence for the validity of the ATCI-P in measuring pharmacist attitudes towards collaboration with GPs and support a model of collaboration, from the pharmacist’s perspective, in which collaborative behaviour is influenced directly by ‘interactional’ and ‘environmental determinants’, and indirectly by ‘practitioner determinants’.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with a high risk of stroke and may often be asymptomatic. AF is commonly undiagnosed until patients present with sequelae, such as heart failure and stroke. Stroke secondary to AF is highly preventable with the use of appropriate thromboprophylaxis. Therefore, early identification and appropriate evidence-based management of AF could lead to subsequent stroke prevention. This study aims to determine the feasibility and impact of a community pharmacy-based screening programme focused on identifying undiagnosed AF in people aged 65 years and older.
Methods and analysis
This cross-sectional study of community-based screening to identify undiagnosed AF will evaluate the feasibility of screening for AF using a pulse palpation and handheld single-lead electrocardiograph (ECG) device. 10 community pharmacies will be recruited and trained to implement the screening protocol, targeting a total of 1000 participants. The primary outcome is the proportion of people newly identified with AF at the completion of the screening programme. Secondary outcomes include level of agreement between the pharmacist's and the cardiologist's interpretation of the single-lead ECG; level of agreement between irregular rhythm identified with pulse palpation and with the single-lead ECG. Process outcomes related to sustainability of the screening programme beyond the trial setting, pharmacist knowledge of AF and rate of uptake of referral to full ECG evaluation and cardiology review will also be collected.
Ethics and dissemination
Primary ethics approval was received on 26 March 2012 from Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee—Concord Repatriation General Hospital zone. Results will be disseminated via forums including, but not limited to, peer-reviewed publication and presentation at national and international conferences.
Clinical trials registration number
Describes the protocol for a community-based screening programme to identify previously undetected AF in adults aged 65 years and older in the community, for stroke prevention.
Early identification of AF would allow for timely referral for medical review and subsequent initiation of appropriate evidence-based thromboprophylaxis to prevent stroke.
The efficacy of screening for AF in a community setting is yet to be tested in a well-designed clinical trial.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The main strengths of this study are that it uses a simple community-focused strategy using innovative technology to screen for AF, which may be suitable for widespread implementation. The technology delivers a single-lead electrocardiograph available for immediate interpretation and corroboration by an expert cardiologist remotely.
The sample size of 1000 will inform the design and refinement of a future large-scale intervention and implementation study.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pharmacy; Asthma; Disease management service; Experiences; Feedback