Hospital pharmacists' perceptions of medication counseling: A focus group study

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Abstract

Background:

Medication counseling sessions are key times for a pharmacist to speak to patients about their medications and the changes made to their therapies during their hospital stay.

Objectives:

To explore hospital pharmacists' perceptions of their roles and goals in patient medication counseling, and perceived barriers and facilitators to achieving their goals.

Methods:

Hospital pharmacist focus groups were held in two tertiary referral hospitals. Eligible pharmacists had provided medication counseling within the previous six months in inpatient and/or outpatient settings. Interested pharmacists attended a focus group designed to elicit their opinions and perceptions of patient medication counseling. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Inductive thematic analysis was applied to the data to identify initial patterns (codes) which were then organized into common overarching themes using NVivo® software. The codes were reviewed for reliability by pharmacists independent of the focus groups.

Results:

Six, 1-h focus groups were conducted with a total of 24 pharmacists participating. Saturation of information was determined after four focus groups. Greater than 80% consensus was achieved for reliability of the identified codes. A number of themes emerged from these codes around the goals, roles, and the barriers and facilitators to meeting these goals. Pharmacists' patient-centered goals in medication counseling were to build rapport, to empower patients and to improve patients' experience, health and safety. These goals would be accomplished through specific roles such as being an assessor, educator and problem-solver. Pharmacists frequently cited time pressures caused by systemic (hospital), and pharmacy specific processes as key challenges to achieving their goals. Factors that enabled pharmacists to meet their goals were those related to effective interprofessional collaboration and the quality of professional practice (such as training, expanded roles and advanced planning for discharge).

Conclusions:

Hospital pharmacists emphasized patient-centered goals in medication counseling and outlined the challenges to meet those goals. The findings from this study will be used to develop strategies for effective communication and inform pharmacy practice changes to improve patient care.

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