Counselling patients on psychotropic medication: physicians' opinions on the role of community pharmacists


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Abstract

ObjectiveTo study physicians' opinions on community pharmacists' involvement in counselling patients on use of psychotropic medication.DesignA postal questionnaire with open-ended questions completed by physicians.SubjectsA six per cent random sample (n = 759) of the members of the Finnish Medical Association representing physicians working in hospitals, community health centres, private practices and occupational health services (response rate 64%, n = 487).Main measuresPhysicians' opinions concerning community pharmacists' involvement in counselling patients about purpose of the medication and adverse effects of benzodiazepines and neuroleptics.ResultsWhen classifying opinions into five categories, majority (72%) of the physicians regarded community pharmacists as a provider of comprehensive or at least general information about adverse effects of benzodiazepines, but only 43% about the purpose of the medication. Correspondingly, 60% of the physicians regarded community pharmacists as a provider of comprehensive or general information about adverse effects of neuroleptics, but only 35 % about the purpose of the medication. There was a strong correlation between physicians' opinions concerning pharmacists' involvement in counselling patients about the purpose of the medication of benzodiazepines and neuroleptics (Spearman's coefficient 0.667), and about adverse effects of both type of medication (0.668). Male physicians had more fixed opinions, both positive and negative, than female physicians.ConclusionFinnish physicians are still quite critical about community pharmacists involvement in counselling patients on psychotropic medication. Especially with neuroleptics, physicians feel that pharmacists should be cautious when discussing the purpose of the medication if it is excluded from the prescription.

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