Self-medication and non-prescription drug counseling: Illustrating profession uncertainty within Turkish pharmacy practice

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Abstract

Background:

Recommending effective minor ailment treatments and using non-prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines is a pharmacist's duty. Although common in most European countries, self-medication counseling practices may differ from country to country.

Objectives:

This study explored Turkish community pharmacists' attitudes concerning the present self-medication market, professional responsibilities toward patients' self-care, and the usefulness of e-learning for patients' counseling education.

Methods:

The study was comprised of three phases: initially, a document content analysis searched for relevant OTC regulatory and/or practice frameworks; secondly, qualitative individual interviews on self-medication with purposively selected Turkish community pharmacists were performed; finally, a focus group with practitioners and continuing education experts was conducted to deepen previous results. A thematic data analysis, based on the attitudinal theory, was conducted, supported by MAXQDA v12 software.

Results:

Sixteen documental sources allowed the extraction of three initial main themes: self-medication, classification of medicines and pharmacists' role. Individual interviews outlined four themes that informed the focus group discussion, which produced four new themes. Themes and their codes reflected dissimilar practitioners' cognitions towards OTCs, OTC usage and self-medication, particularly if compared to other European conceptualizations. Contradictory feelings towards the value of OTCs for professional development, e.g., patient counseling influenced by profit-based expectations, were identified.

Conclusion:

Turkish community pharmacists and their minor ailments treatment competences have yet to thrive as a relevant professional intervention. There are risks of missing the best pharmacy practice standards, thus losing their contribution to rational self-care. Besides weakening the societal recognition of the profession to help individuals' everyday health decisions and well-being, there might be a reduced active role in public health.

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