Medication management for community palliative care patients and the role of a specialist palliative care pharmacist: A qualitative exploration of consumer and health care professional perspectives


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Abstract

Background:Pharmacists have a key role to play in optimisation of medication regimens and promotion of medication safety. The role of specialist pharmacists as part of the multidisciplinary palliative care team, especially in the primary care setting, is not widely recognised.Aim:To explore the perspectives of stakeholders about the gaps in the current model of community palliative care services in relation to medication management and to assess their opinions pertaining to the role of a specialist palliative care pharmacist in addressing some of those gaps.Design:Qualitative study utilising three focus groups involving 20 stakeholders. Thematic analysis was carried out using a framework approach and interpreted in the context of the Chronic Care Model for improving primary care for patients with chronic illness.Setting/Participants:Setting was a large regional Australian palliative care service. Participants included palliative care consumers and clinicians specifically patients, caregivers, physicians, nurses and pharmacists.Results:Five major themes emerged from the focus groups: access to resources, medicines and information; shared care; challenges of polypharmacy; informal caregiver needs and potential roles of a palliative care pharmacist. Gaps in access to medicines/resources, training for generalist practitioners, communication between treating teams and lack of support for patients and carers were cited as factors adversely impacting medication management in community-based palliative care.Conclusion:While community-based palliative care is an essential aspect of meeting the health care demands of an ageing society, the current model has several gaps and limitations. An appropriately qualified and skilled pharmacist within the palliative care team may help to address some of the gaps in relation to medication access and appropriateness.

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