Impact of patients' religious and spiritual beliefs in pharmacy: From the perspective of the pharmacist

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Socio-cultural perspectives including religious and spiritual beliefs affect medicine use and adherence. Increasingly communities that pharmacists serve are diverse and pharmacists need to counsel medicine use issues with ethical and cultural sensitivity as well as pharmaceutical competence. There is very little research in this social aspect of pharmacy practice, and certainly none conducted in Australia, an increasingly multicultural, diverse population.


The purpose of this study was to explore, from a pharmacy practitioner's viewpoint, the frequency and nature of cases where patients' articulated religious/spiritual belief affect medicine use; and pharmacist perspectives on handling these issues.


Qualitative method employing semi-structured interviews with pharmacy practitioners, constructed around an interview guide. Pharmacist participants were recruited purposively from areas of linguistic diversity in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Verbatim transcription and thematic analyses were performed on the data.


Thematic analyses of 21 semi-structured interviews depicted that scenarios where religious and spiritual belief and medication use intersect were frequently encountered by pharmacists. Patient concerns with excipients of animal origin and medication use while observing religious fasts were the main issues reported. Participants displayed scientific competence; however, aspects of ethical sensitivity in handling such issues could be improved. This novel study highlights the urgent need for more research, training and resource development for practitioners serving patients in multi-faith areas.

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