Examining hospital pharmacists' goals for medication counseling within the communication accommodation theoretical framework

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Medication counseling opportunities are key times for pharmacists to speak to patients about their medications and any changes made during their hospital stay. Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) posits that an individual's goals drive their communication behavior. The way in which pharmacists communicate with patients may be determined by the goals they set for these medication counseling sessions.


To examine hospital pharmacists' goals in patient medication counseling within the CAT framework.


Hospital pharmacist focus groups were held in two teaching hospitals. Interested pharmacists attended a focus group designed to elicit their goals in patient medication counseling. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. NVivo® software was used to assist in coding and organization. The codes were reviewed for reliability by pharmacists independent of the focus groups. An inductive thematic analysis was applied to the data.


Six 1 h focus groups were conducted with a total of 24 pharmacists participating. Saturation of information was achieved after four focus groups. Greater than 80% consensus was achieved for reliability of the identified codes. Patient-centered themes constructed from these codes were to build rapport, to empower patients and to improve patients' experience, health and safety. Exemplars provided by pharmacists for the goals of building rapport and empowering patients were aligned with five CAT communication behaviors (approximation, interpretability, discourse management, emotional expression and interpersonal control).


Patient-centered goals described by hospital pharmacists for medication counseling aligned well with CAT behaviors necessary for effective communication. Further research using the CAT framework to examine the effectiveness of hospital pharmacist-patient exchanges that include both participants' perspectives is required to better understand how well pharmacists communicate with patients.

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