Opportunities to develop the professional role of community pharmacists in the care of patients with asthma: A cross-sectional study
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© The Author(s) 2016. There are many indications in Australia and globally that asthma management is suboptimal. Ideally, patients need to proactively self-manage the condition with the support of health professionals. Community pharmacists are a highly accessible resource for patients but currently provide inconsistent services. General practitioners also face many barriers to the provision of chronic disease management for asthma patients. The aim of this research was to characterise patients with asthma who present to community pharmacy. The objective was to identify opportunities to develop the role of pharmacists in the context of the primary healthcare setting and in view of the needs of the patients they routinely encounter. The results of a comprehensive survey of 248 patients recruited from community pharmacies indicated there was discordance between patient perceptions of asthma control and actual asthma control. Almost half the patients surveyed had poorly controlled asthma, whereas almost three quarters perceived their asthma to be well or completely controlled. Fewer than 20% of patients were utilising written asthma action plans, and issues around quality use of medicines were identified. The significance of the incongruent perceptions regarding asthma control is that patients are unlikely to proactively seek intervention and support from healthcare professionals. Community pharmacists provide a significant opportunity to address these issues by direct intervention. There is scope to investigate pharmacists preparing written asthma action plans for patients, using software to monitor medication adherence and prescribe on-going medication. To maximise the potential of pharmacists, barriers to practice need to be identified and addressed.
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