Introduction: Rural areas require better use of existing health professionals to ensure capacity to deliver improved cardiovascular outcomes. Community pharmacists (CPs) are accessible to most communities and can potentially undertake expanded roles in prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Objective: This study aims to establish frequency of contact with general practitioners (GPs) and CPs by patients at high risk of CVD or with inadequately controlled CVD risk factors.
Design, setting and participants: Population survey using randomly selected individuals from the Wimmera region electoral roll and incorporating a physical health check and self-administered health questionnaire. Overall, 1500 were invited to participate.
Results: The participation rate was 51% when ineligible individuals were excluded. Nine out of 10 participants visited one or both types of practitioner in the previous 12 months. Substantially more participants visited GPs compared with CPs (88.5% versus 66.8%). With the exception of excess alcohol intake, the median number of opportunities to intervene for every inadequately controlled CVD risk factor and among high risk patient groups at least doubled for the professions combined when compared with GP visits alone.
Conclusion: Opportunities exist to intervene more frequently with target groups by engaging CPs more effectively but would require a significant attitude shift towards CPs. Mechanisms for greater pharmacist integration into primary care teams should be investigated.