Counselling in Swedish Community Pharmacies : Understanding the Process of a Pharmaceutical Care Service

Abstract: Community pharmacy practice is moving towards patient care and away from the mere dispensing of medicines. In this movement, which is guided by the philosophy of Pharmaceutical care (PC), new counselling services emerge. The purpose of the thesis was to add knowledge about the real-world provision of PC services by studying a defined PC service in Swedish pharmacies. Specific aims of this thesis were to investigate the experiences of professionals working with or close to the service and to describe the content of consultations, counselling behaviour and patterns of follow-up. Further aims were to characterise patients receiving the service and describe their perceived outcomes, in relation to standard service. Data were collected via focus groups, telephone interviews, observations, a patient medication record database and a cross-sectional survey. The practitioners reported greater use of their pharmaceutical knowledge and provision of more thorough patient support. Perceived barriers in delivering the service included difficulties in documenting and getting commitment from colleagues, managers and prescribers. Doctors working close to PC pharmacies held varying opinions about the service. Consultations dealt with issues potentially improving the outcomes of medical treatment, but the level of patient centredness varied and was limited by the practitioners’ focus on the computer screen. The rate of follow-up evaluations was modest, but was higher at pharmacies with a high volume of patients receiving the service. PC patients were mostly elderly and female, using about 10 prescription drugs. In comparison to patients receiving standard service, they were more worried, vulnerable and information-seeking. At the same time, their feelings of safety following the pharmacy visit were more pronounced than those of patients receiving standard service. They also felt better prepared for doctor visits. In order for community pharmacy to better meet patients’ needs and optimise PC services, increased attention should be given to implementation strategies, interprofessional collaboration and educational efforts focusing on patient centredness.