Hospital pharmacists' and patients' views about what constitutes effective communication between pharmacists and patients

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Abstract

Objectives

The study's objective was to explore hospital pharmacists' and patients' views about what constitutes effective communication exchanges between pharmacists and patients.

Methods

This was a novel theory-based qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to elicit patients' and pharmacists' perspectives. Pharmacists providing clinical pharmacy services in either inpatient or outpatient settings were recruited first. Eligible patients had been admitted to a study pharmacist's practice area and were prescribed three or more medications to manage a chronic disease(s). Following each pharmacist–patient medication counselling session, semi-structured interviews were held separately with patients and pharmacists. Participants were asked questions intended to explore their views about what constitutes an effective pharmacist–patient conversation. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim, analysed using a process of inductive thematic analysis and then mapped to Communication Accommodation Theory strategies. Observational notes and reflexive note taking were conducted throughout.

Key findings

Twelve pharmacists each engaged four individual patients for a total of 48 pharmacist–patient conversations (resulting in 48 separate interviews with pharmacists and patients). An overall shared goal was the assurance of patients' confidence in managing their medications at home. Themes included shared colloquialisms/slang, well-explained information, engagement, established rapport and empowerment. Participants provided rich exemplars for each of the themes.

Conclusions

Pharmacists and patients provided valuable insights about what makes pharmacist–patient interactions effective. Patient-identified preferences for pharmacist–patient exchanges may help guide pharmacy students and practitioners to engage patients in effective conversations.

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