|Year : 2009 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 23-26
A survey for assessment of the role of pharmacist in community pharmacy services
H Sharma1, D Jindal1, M Aqil1, MS Alam1, S Karim1, P Kapur2
1 Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi - 110 062, India
2 Majeedia Hospital, Hamdard University, Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi - 110 062, India
|Date of Submission||08-Nov-2009|
|Date of Decision||22-Nov-2009|
|Date of Acceptance||10-Dec-2009|
|Date of Web Publication||23-Apr-2010|
M S Alam
Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi - 110 062
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
| Abstract|| |
Objective : To assess the role of a pharmacist in a community setting and the consumer's perception in the National Capital Region. Setting : The study was conducted in the National Capital Region of India during the year 2003 - 2004. Materials and Methods : Four pharmacies were selected for this study, which were not attached to any hospital or clinic. Seventy-seven consumers, who visited these pharmacies during the study period, were selected for this study and interviewed just after they visited the pharmacy. Results : A total of 77 consumers in the age group of 11 to 72 years were included in the present study, of which 66.2% were males and 33.8% were females. It was observed that 46.7% of the consumers came for prescription medicines and 23.4% for over-the-counter medicines. Close to the general physicians' clinics and proximity to home were the most important reasons given for visiting a particular pharmacy. A majority of the consumers (n = 56, 72.7%) rated the advice given by the pharmacist as very useful, only one (1.3%) rated it as not useful at all and two (2.6%) consumers did not respond. Among the consumer groups 31 (40.3%) thought that the pharmacist had a good balance between health and business matters, 35.7% were of the opinion that the pharmacist was more concerned with making money, while 5.2% supported that the pharmacist was also interested in the health of his / her customers. The pharmacists were ranked at the top by 28 (36.4%) consumers, and favored pharmacy as the most convenient place to get advice about staying healthy. Conclusion : Most of the consumers in the present study were of the opinion that a pharmacist is concerned with the health of the consumers, although he / she was also interested in making money. Many respondents were unaware about the difference between a pharmacist and a doctor, most of them considered the pharmacist to be a doctor and this was the main problem in concluding that the pharmacy was the most convenient and best place for advice about staying healthy.
Keywords: Community pharmacy, healthcare services, pharmacist, public perception
|How to cite this article:|
Sharma H, Jindal D, Aqil M, Alam M S, Karim S, Kapur P. A survey for assessment of the role of pharmacist in community pharmacy services. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2009;1:23-6
|How to cite this URL:|
Sharma H, Jindal D, Aqil M, Alam M S, Karim S, Kapur P. A survey for assessment of the role of pharmacist in community pharmacy services. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2009 [cited 2019 Dec 10];1:23-6. Available from: http://www.jpbsonline.org/text.asp?2009/1/1/23/62682
The community pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals to the public. They provide health / medical facilities and dispense medicines in accordance with legal and ethical permission, either on prescription or as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. They also bridge the gap between doctors and patients for optimal and rational use of the medicines. The community pharmacists perform a variety of functions, including procurement and dispensing of drugs, patient counseling and education, health promotion, drug information, and consultation services to the healthcare professionals, on the rational selection of medicines.  In some developed countries, the pharmacists are rated as one of the top three professionals who serve the society. This recognition to pharmacists is due to the professional services rendered by them to improve the public health in the community. , Many studies conducted in different countries on the public perception of pharmacists, give different impressions. Brodie proposed that by virtue of knowledge, understanding, judgment, procedures and skills, pharmacists provide quality medicines and suitable advice to patients for appropriate use of their medicines.  In a study conducted in Nigeria about public perception of community pharmacists, the public gave a moderately positive opinion about pharmacists. 
In India, the community pharmacy practice is different, community pharmacies are generally called as medical stores, drug store, or chemist shop.  As per section 42 of the pharmacy act 1948, no person other than a registered pharmacist can compound, prepare, premix, mix or dispense medicines, on prescription of a registered medical practitioner. In India, the community pharmacists are more interested in trade than profession. Many pharmacists are unaware of their professional roles and responsibilities. 
In a study conducted in Mysore, above 35% of pharmacies are run by non-qualified persons hiring the licenses of registered pharmacists.  Such people may have only commercial interest. The scenario is more or less the same in the whole country. Many prescription medicines are sold like OTC products.
Public perception about community pharmacists as a healthcare professional is ambiguous. There is a great need to generate awareness in the public as well as pharmacy personnel about their roles and responsibilities in the community healthcare system. Hence, the present study is aimed to assess the role of pharmacists in the community healthcare service, the consumer's expectation and perception about them, and the health services provided by them to the community.
| Materials and Methods|| |
It is a prospective questionnaire-based survey, carried out in four pharmacies in the National Capital Region (NCR) of India during the year 2003 - 2004. A 13-item questionnaire was developed with reference to the consumer survey that had already been carried out in the Pharmacy Practice Research Resource Center (PPRRC), Manchester, in 1994.  A total of 77 consumers of age between 11 to 72 years were interviewed at four community pharmacies. The data were coded and analyzed using the computer.
| Results|| |
In the present study a good number of consumers, 24 (32.2%) were in the age group of 41 - 50 years, followed by 18 (23.4%) in the age group of 31 - 40 years, and 14 (18.2%) in the age group of 51 - 60 years [Table 1]. It was observed that 46.7% of the consumers came for prescription medicines, 23.4% for OTC medicines, 15.6% for non-medical goods, and 9.1% for advice on treating the medical problem [Table 2], Q-1. Sixty percent of the consumers visited the pharmacy either once a month or more, 15.6% visited at least once a week, 9.1% once a year, and 13% were those who had never visited the pharmacy [Table 2], Q-2. In the group of interviewed consumers, 45.4% preferred a pharmacy that was close to their home, followed by 16.9% who preferred it to be near the general physician's (GP's) clinic, 16.9% preferred it for product availability, and a small group of patients / consumers preferred the pharmacy because of reliable advice [Table 2], Q-3. Nearly 46% of the consumers were observed to be very healthy, 29.9% fairly healthy, 14.3% not very healthy, and 10.4% were not healthy at all [Table 2], Q-4. When asked about the problems, a very high percentage 50.6% of the consumers did not respond [Table 2], Q-5. From the pool of the consumers group, 46.7% of the consumers said that advice was offered to them by a pharmacist without asking for it and 50.6% said that they had to ask the pharmacist for advice [Table 2], Q-6. A higher percentage of consumers (71.3%) asked the pharmacist for advice on general health issues and 24.7% did not ask for it [Table 2], Q-7. Pharmacist's advice was rated very useful by 56 (72.7%) consumers, not useful by only one (1.3%), and two (2.6%) of the consumers did not respond [Table 2], Q-8. It was observed that 31 (40.3%) of the consumers thought that the pharmacist had a good balance between health and business matters and 35.7% were of the opinion that pharmacist was more concerned with making money [Table 2], Q-9. From the study population 57.1% felt totally at ease when asking the pharmacist for advice, 15.6% felt awkward about asking for advice, and 16.9 felt more at ease asking the advice from the other pharmacy staff [Table 2], Q-10. Twenty-eight (36.4%) consumers were in favor of the pharmacy as the most convenient place to get advice about staying healthy, followed by friend, media, and family, (22 (28.6%), 17 (22.1%), and 7 (9.1%), respectively) [Table 2], Q-11. A majority of consumers (88.3%) preferred getting advice about staying healthy from a GP and 7.8% preferred the pharmacist for health advice [Table 2], Q-12. A large number of consumers, 46 (59.7%), thought it was the usual job of the pharmacists to give advice about general health issues, five (6.5%) did not think it was the usual job of the pharmacist to give advice about general health issues, and 26 (33.8%) did not respond to this question [Table 2], Q-13.
| Discussion|| |
This is the very first study conducted in NCR, which directly deals with consumers or patients. They were interviewed just after they received the services from the pharmacy. As it is a prospective questionnaire-based survey it eliminates recall biases, unlike the earlier studies. In the present study it was observed that GP's clinics and distance from home and work place were the most important reasons for the consumers visiting a particular pharmacy. Most of the consumers visited the pharmacy at least once every month. From the results, it can be concluded that the most of the consumers supported that the pharmacist is concerned with their health, although he is also interested in making money.
A large percentage of the consumers were unaware about the difference between a pharmacist and a doctor. Most of them considered the pharmacist to be a doctor and this is the main problem in concluding the real picture of the pharmacy being the most convenient and best place for advice about staying healthy. The community pharmacist should demonstrate his / her increased skill and actively participate in healthcare service, so that they can have a distinguished recognition in the community. The GP was seen as the best person from whom to get advice about staying healthy, the pharmacists were rated at second place.
In the current survey, those with repeat prescriptions were more likely to say that the pharmacy was the most convenient place to get advice. This is an important result because these respondents are likely to see their pharmacist more often than they see their GP.
Prescription customers would probably think that it was the usual job for the pharmacist to give advice about general health, and they were also more likely than other customers to have been offered advice. Why do other customers not take the opportunity and why do they think it is not the pharmacist's usual job? It is possible because some pharmacists spend much of their time in dispensing prescriptions and not giving the much needed time for advice about them. The pharmacists appear to be unapproachable, being busy with prescription customers, or do not give importance to active participation in health advice. This may be one of the reasons that pharmacists have sometimes been criticized for putting business interest above the health of their patients.
| Conclusion|| |
The image of the pharmacist as a health promoter is only partially influenced by the service that he or she provides and the image that he or she projects. The public support for pharmacy in health promotion depends largely on how GPs are regarded and whether they are seen as key providers of health advice and screening. Consumers' perspectives of health promotion by community pharmacists and their perception of where the pharmacist's role begins and the GP's role stops is a barrier to the development of health promotion in a pharmacy. As long as consumers perceive the GP as the most convenient and best person to go to for advice about staying healthy, the pharmacist will remain, at best, in second place in healthcare system.
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[Table 1], [Table 2]