Advice-giving in community pharmacies in the UK

M. P. Tully, K. Hassell, P. R. Noyce

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives: To review (1) the published evidence on the information provided with prescribed and purchased medicines by pharmacists and pharmacy assistants, (2) clients' expectations of advice about medicines from community pharmacies and their experience and use of it, and (3) appropriateness and rigour of study methods used. Methods: Papers, published between 1980 and 1995 inclusively, were identified based on searches of on-line databases, a published literature index, key pharmacy practice journals and cited references in the bibliographies of published papers. Those papers selected reported research findings on any aspect of medicines-related communications and the provision of advice about medicines to members of the public who visited pharmacies in the UK. The comparatively small volume of work and lack of design consistency meant that a subjective assessment, rather than a criteria-based objective review, was deemed appropriate. Results: Forty-two suitable studies were identified and are reviewed. No common definition of 'advice' has emerged. Most studies reported were quantitative, concentrating on the frequency of advice-giving in community pharmacies and only one study considered the impact of advice on outcome. The quality of advice given was judged highly variable, although pharmacists' referrals, where made, were considered appropriate. Given that pharmacy assistants appear to make most of the medicine sales, remarkably few studies addressed their contribution to advice-giving. The review can provide little insight into what determines when advice is provided, but it does illuminate the disparity between the advice that clients say they want and what they actually seek. Conclusions: Where there appears to be a consensus that advice-giving in community pharmacies is wanted, this review reveals a lack of shared understanding between consumer bodies and the pharmacy profession about who needs advice and when and how it should be given. The need for unsolicited advice-giving associated with the sale of medicines is particularly contentious. With the current programme of deregulation of medicines, this is an increasingly important issue to resolve. The authors suggest a need for a consensus-building forum to generate guidelines that meet shared expectations between clients, community pharmacists, government and the pharmaceutical industry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-50
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Health Services Research and Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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