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Keywords:

  • community pharmacy;
  • counseling;
  • Denmark;
  • patient expectation

Abstract

Background

Despite pharmacists' extensive knowledge in the optimization of patients' medical treatments, community pharmacies are still fighting to earn patients' trust with respect to medicinal counselling at the counter.

Objective

The aim was to investigate how patients perceive pharmacy counselling at the present time, in order to develop the patient–pharmacy relationship for the benefit of both patients and pharmacies.

Design

Short semi-structured interviews were carried out with pharmacy customers by pharmacy internship students.

Setting and participants

One hundred and eight customers in 35 independent pharmacies across Denmark were interviewed during the spring of 2011.

Main variables studied

Customers were interviewed about their expectations of pharmacies in general and their experiences with medical counselling in particular.

Results

Customers perceive community pharmacies very differently in terms of both expectations of and positive experiences with counselling. They appear to be in favour of pharmacy counselling with respect to over-the-counter medicine and first-time prescription medicine in contrast to refills. Customers find it difficult to express the health-care role of pharmacies even when experiencing and appreciating it.

Discussion

Lack of appreciation of pharmacy counselling for refill prescription medicine and the difficulty in defining the role of pharmacies might stem from the difficulties that customers have in understanding medicine and thus the role of counselling services with respect to medicine. The pharmacy staff does not seem to realize these barriers.

Conclusions

For pharmacies to encourage customer interest in pharmacy counselling, the staff should start taking the identified barriers into account when planning communication strategies.