Pharmacist–patient communication barriers in dispensing practice: a descriptive study in Adama Hospital Medical College, Adama City, Oromia regional state, Ethiopia

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Drug dispensers should provide appropriate, understandable and relevant information to patient about their medication. But poor communication between patient and pharmacist carries potential adverse clinical consequences. Patients with inadequate literacy and/or health literacy skills are the most likely to have difficulties in understanding proper drug use. Our study is intended to assess the extent of pharmacist–patient communication barriers in dispensing.


This study was conducted in Adama Hospital Medical College, Adama City, Ethiopia, from March 2014 to May 2014. The survey data were collected both from pharmacists and patients through questionnaire and interview, respectively, and analysed manually by a data master sheet.

Key findings

A total of 345 outpatients who were collecting their medication from the Outpatient Department pharmacy and nine pharmacists were included in the study. 11.11% pharmacists utilised pictorial aid to their oral counselling. 77.78% of pharmacists can communicate in three languages (Amharic, Oromiffa and English). 20.87% of patients were geriatrics, 30.73% were illiterate and 34.20% were in low literacy. Misunderstanding of drug dose and frequency among illiterate and low literacy geriatric patients was 46.88%. 22.22% of geriatrics revisited the hospital for re-treatment of the same condition.


Counselling on dispensing is a fundamental step to enhance the patients’ rational use of medicine. When patients’ health is concerned, pharmacists should try their best to enhance the patient's understanding about medication use.

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