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Improving Pharmacist-Patient Interactions

September 07, 2017

By better engaging patients in dialogue and recognizing emotional cues, pharmacists could improve patient-centered communication, according to a recent study published online in Research in Social & Administrative Pharmacy (doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2017.07.002).

The study focused on how community pharmacists employ the patient care process, an approach intended to upgrade practice from traditional dispensing to a greater professional patient care level.

The 3 main steps in the patient care process are assessing the patient’s medical issue, medications, and any drug-related problems; putting together a care plan; and following up with planned evaluations, a Pharmacy Times report explained (August 17, 2017).

According to the study, while nearly all pharmacists reviewed medication indication, safety, and manageability when releasing a drug to the patient, the information gathered was usually insufficient to fully assess for medication appropriateness.

“Six overarching themes described consultations and checking sessions: missed opportunities, the absence of personalized assessments, reliance on routines, nonspecific questions, communication style, and response to patient cues,” researchers wrote. “The quantitative and qualitative findings together created a picture of incomplete assessments, which were driven by technical routines and medication-focused communication.”

Pharmacists tended to ask closed-ended questions, used words like “maybe” and “probably” that expressed uncertainty during patient counseling, and often left patients overwhelmed by advice, according to the Pharmacy Times article.  

Although most of the pharmacists in the study completed a large part of the patient-care process, interactions could be enhanced by more personal dialogue, open-ended questions, and attention to nonverbal feedback, researchers advised.

Jolynn Tumolo

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