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1.  Medicines use reviews: a potential resource or lost opportunity for general practice? 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:57.
Background
Patient non-adherence to medicines represents a significant waste of health resource and lost opportunity for health gain. Medicine management services are a key health policy strategy to encourage patients to take medicines as they are prescribed. One such service is the English Medicines Use Review (MUR) which is an NHS-funded community pharmacy service involving a patient-pharmacist consultation aiming to improve patients’ knowledge of medicines and their use. To date the evidence for MURs to improve patient health outcomes is equivocal and GPs are reported to be sceptical about the value of the service. This paper presents the patient’s perspective of the MUR service and focuses on the importance of GP-pharmacist collaboration for patient care. Suggestions on how MURs may have value to GPs through the delivery of increased patient benefit are discussed.
Method
A qualitative study involving ten weeks of ethnographic observations in two English community pharmacies. Observations were made of all pharmacy activities including patient-pharmacist MUR consultations. Subsequent interviews with these patients were conducted to explore their experience of the service. Interviews with the pharmacy staff were conducted after the period of observations. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data.
Results
Fifty-four patients agreed to have their MUR observed of which thirty-four were interviewed. Seventeen pharmacy staff were also interviewed. Patients reported positive views about MURs. However, there was little evidence suggesting that pharmacists and GPs were working collaboratively or communicating outcomes resulting from MURs. MURs were conducted in isolation from other aspects of patient care. Patients considered GPs to have authority over medicines making a few wary that MURs had the potential to cause tensions between these professionals and possibly adversely affect their own relationship with their doctor.
Conclusions
This study reveals the potential for effective GP-pharmacist collaboration to improve the capacity of the MUR service to support patient medicine taking. Closer collaboration between GPs and pharmacists could potentially improve patients’ use of medicines and associated health care outcomes. The current lack of such collaboration constitutes a missed opportunity for pharmacists and GPs to work together with patients to improve effective prescribing and optimise patient use of medicines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-57
PMCID: PMC3651305  PMID: 23647874
Adherence; Community pharmacy; Cooperative behaviour; General practitioners; Medicines Use Reviews; Patients; Pharmacists
2.  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
3.  Procedure versus process: ethical paradigms and the conduct of qualitative research 
BMC Medical Ethics  2012;13:25.
Background
Research is fundamental to improving the quality of health care. The need for regulation of research is clear. However, the bureaucratic complexity of research governance has raised concerns that the regulatory mechanisms intended to protect participants now threaten to undermine or stifle the research enterprise, especially as this relates to sensitive topics and hard to reach groups.
Discussion
Much criticism of research governance has focused on long delays in obtaining ethical approvals, restrictions imposed on study conduct, and the inappropriateness of evaluating qualitative studies within the methodological and risk assessment frameworks applied to biomedical and clinical research. Less attention has been given to the different epistemologies underlying biomedical and qualitative investigation. The bioethical framework underpinning current regulatory structures is fundamentally at odds with the practice of emergent, negotiated micro-ethics required in qualitative research. The complex and shifting nature of real world settings delivers unanticipated ethical issues and (occasionally) genuine dilemmas which go beyond easy or formulaic ‘procedural’ resolution. This is not to say that qualitative studies are ‘unethical’ but that their ethical nature can only be safeguarded through the practice of ‘micro-ethics’ based on the judgement and integrity of researchers in the field.
Summary
This paper considers the implications of contrasting ethical paradigms for the conduct of qualitative research and the value of ‘empirical ethics’ as a means of liberating qualitative (and other) research from an outmoded and unduly restrictive research governance framework based on abstract prinicipalism, divorced from real world contexts and values.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-13-25
PMCID: PMC3519630  PMID: 23016663
Qualitative research; Bioethics; Empirical ethics; Micro ethics; Principalism
4.  After you: conversations between patients and healthcare professionals in planning for end of life care 
BMC Palliative Care  2012;11:15.
Background
This study explores with patients, carers and health care professionals if, when and how Advance Care Planning conversations about patients’ preferences for place of care (and death) were facilitated and documented.
Methods
The study adopted an exploratory case study design using qualitative interviews, across five services delivering palliative care to cancer and non-cancer patients within an urban and rural English region. The study recruited 18 cases made up of patients (N = 18; 10 men; 8 women; median age 75); nominated relatives (N = 11; 7 women; 4 men; median age 65) and healthcare professionals (N = 15) caring for the patient. Data collection included: 18 initial interviews (nine separate interviews with patients and 9 joint interviews with patients and relatives) and follow up interviews in 6 cases (involving a total of 5 patients and 5 relatives) within one year of the first interview. Five group interviews were conducted with 15 healthcare professionals; 8 of whom also participated in follow up interviews to review their involvement with patients in our study.
Results
Patients demonstrated varying degrees of reticence, evasion or reluctance to initiate any conversations about end of life care preferences. Most assumed that staff would initiate such conversations, while staff were often hesitant to do so. Staff-identified barriers included the perceived risks of taking away hope and issues of timing. Staff were often guided by cues from the patient or by intuition about when to initiate these discussions.
Conclusions
This study provides insights into the complexities surrounding the initiation of Advance Care Planning involving conversations about end of life care preferences with patients who are identified as having palliative care needs, in particular in relation to the risks inherent in the process of having conversations where mortality must be acknowledged. Future research is needed to examine how to develop interventions to help initiate conversations to develop person centred plans to manage the end of life.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-11-15
PMCID: PMC3517317  PMID: 22985010
Advance care planning; Palliative care services; Preferred place of care; Qualitative research
5.  Is it recorded in the notes? Documentation of end-of-life care and preferred place to die discussions in the final weeks of life 
BMC Palliative Care  2011;10:18.
Background
Over the past ten years there has been an increasing focus on the need for improving the experience of end of life care. A number of policy initiatives have been introduced to develop approaches to discussing and documenting individual preferences for end of life care, in particular preferred place to die.
Methods
The aim was to investigate practice in relation to discussing and documenting end of life care and preferred place to die in the last 4 weeks of life with patients and their families. The study utilised an audit of 65 case notes, alongside four group interviews with a mix of health care professionals involved in palliative care provision.
Results
While there was evidence that discussions relating to end of life care and preferred place to die had taken place in around half of the audited case notes, there appeared to be a lack of a systematic approach to the recording of discussions with patients or carers about these kind of issues. Health care staff subsequently highlighted that initiating discussions about end of life care and preferences in relation to place of death was challenging and that the recording and tracking of such preferences was problematic.
Conclusions
Further work is required to establish how information may be adequately recorded, revised and transferred across services to ensure that patients' preferences in relation to end of life care and place of death are, as far as possible, achieved.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-10-18
PMCID: PMC3227605  PMID: 22053810
6.  The contribution of the Medicines Use Review (MUR) consultation to counseling practice in community pharmacies☆ 
Patient Education and Counseling  2011;83(3):336-344.
Objective
To understand the contribution of the Medicines Use Review consultation to counseling practice in community pharmacies.
Methods
Qualitative study involving ten weeks of observations in two community pharmacies and interviews with patients and pharmacy staff.
Results
‘Traditional’ counseling on prescription medicines involved the unilateral transfer of information from pharmacist to patient. Over-the-counter discussions were initiated by patients and offered more scope for patient participation. The recently introduced MUR service offers new opportunities for pharmacists’ role development in counseling patients about their medicines use. However, the study findings revealed that MUR consultations were brief encounters dominated by closed questions, enabling quick and easy completion of the MUR form. Interactions resembled counseling when handing out prescription medicines. Patients rarely asked questions and indeterminate issues were often circumvented by the pharmacist when they did. MURs did little to increase patients’ knowledge and rarely affected medicine use, although some felt reassured about their medicines. Pragmatic constraints of workload and pharmacy organisation undermined pharmacists’ capacity to implement the MUR service effectively.
Conclusion
Pharmacists failed to fully realise the opportunity offered by MURs being constrained by situational pressures.
Practice implications
Pharmacist consultation skills need to be reviewed if MURs are to realise their intended aims.
doi:10.1016/j.pec.2011.05.007
PMCID: PMC3145978  PMID: 21621943
Counseling; Medicines Use Reviews; Patient centred; Patient–pharmacist communication; Pharmacy practice
7.  Patients' perceptions of entitlement to time in general practice consultations for depression: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7366):687.
Objective:
To investigate patients' perceptions of entitlement to time in general practice consultations for depression.
Design:
Qualitative study based on interviews with patients with mild to moderate depression.
Setting:
Eight general practices in the West Midlands and the regional membership of the Depression Alliance.
Participants:
32 general practice patients and 30 respondents from the Depression Alliance.
Results:
An intense sense of time pressure and a self imposed rationing of time in consultations were key concerns among the interviewees. Anxiety about time affected patients' freedom to talk about their problems. Patients took upon themselves part of the responsibility for managing time in the consultation to relieve the burden they perceived their doctors to be working under. Respondents' accounts often showed a mismatch between their own sense of time entitlement and the doctors' capacity to respond flexibly and constructively in offering extended consultation time when this was necessary. Patients valued time to talk and would often have liked more, but they did not necessarily associate length of consultation with quality. The impression doctors gave in handling time in consultations sent strong messages about legitimising the patients' illness and their decision to consult.
Conclusions:
Patients' self imposed restraint in taking up doctors' time has important consequences for the recognition and treatment of depression. Doctors need to have a greater awareness of patients' anxieties about time and should move to allay such anxieties by pre-emptive reassurance and reinforcing patients' sense of entitlement to time. Far from acting as “consumers,” patients voluntarily assume responsibility for conserving scarce resources in a health service that they regard as a collective rather than a personal resource.
What is already known on this topicA widespread concern is that pressure of work is reducing the length of general practice consultations and that doctors can't deal adequately with patients' problems in the time availableLittle is known about patients' experience of time in consultationsWhat this study addsPatients with depression feel under such acute pressure of time that they are often inhibited from fully disclosing their problems, preventing them making best use of the consultationThere is often a disparity between patients' sense of time shortage and the amount of time their doctors are willing and able to provideDoctors should be more aware of patients' anxieties about time and allay these anxieties by providing pre-emptive reassurance as a means of reinforcing patients' sense of entitlement to consultation time
PMCID: PMC126657  PMID: 12351362

Results 1-8 (8)