• Pharmaceutical care;
  • randomized trial

Objective. To describe unexpected challenges and strategies to overcome them when conducting randomized controlled trials (RCT) of health services research interventions in retail pharmacies.

Study Setting. Thirty-six retail drug stores in Indianapolis.

Study Design. We conducted an RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention to increase pharmacists’ involvement in caring for customers. We describe: (1) our RCT as originally designed, (2) unexpected challenges we faced; and (3) how we resolved those challenges.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods. Randomized controlled trial.

Principal Findings. Major modifications in research design were necessitated by factors such as corporate restructuring, heightened sensitivity to patient confidentiality, and difficulties altering employees’ behavior. We overcame these barriers by conducting research that is consistent with corporate goals, involving appropriate corporate administrators and technical personnel early in the process, and being flexible.

Conclusions. Health services researchers should conduct RCTs in a variety of nonacademic practice settings to increase generalizability and better reflect the true impact of interventions. Pragmatic problems, although significant, can be successfully overcome.