Interventions to enhance effective communication during over-the-counter consultations in the community pharmacy setting: A systematic review

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Abstract

Background:

Easy access to effective over-the-counter (OTC) treatments allows self-management of some conditions, however inappropriate or incorrect supply or use of OTC medicines can cause harm. Pharmacy personnel should support consumers in their health-seeking behaviour by utilising effective communication skills underpinned by clinical knowledge.

Objective:

To identify interventions targeted towards improving communication between consumers and pharmacy personnel during OTC consultations in the community pharmacy setting.

Methods:

Systematic review and narrative analysis. Databases searched were MEDLINE, EMBASE, Psycinfo, Cochrane Central Register and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for literature published between 2000 and 30 October 2014, as well as reference lists of included articles. The search was re-run on 18 January 2016 and 25 September 2017 to maximise the currency. Two reviewers independently screened retrieved articles for inclusion, assessed study quality and extracted data. Full publications of intervention studies were included. Participants were community pharmacy personnel and/or consumers involved in OTC consultations. Interventions which aimed to improve communication during OTC consultations in the community pharmacy setting were included if they involved a direct measurable communication outcome. Studies reporting attitudes and measures not quantifiable were excluded. The protocol was published on Prospero Database of Systematic Reviews.

Results:

Of 4978 records identified, 11 studies met inclusion criteria. Interventions evaluated were: face-to-face training sessions (n=10); role-plays (n=9); a software decision making program (n=1); and simulated patient (SP) visits followed by immediate feedback (n=1). Outcomes were measured using: SP methodology (n=10) and a survey (n=1), with most (n=10) reporting a level of improvement in some communication behaviours.

Conclusion:

Empirical evaluation of interventions using active learning techniques such as face-to-face training with role-play can improve some communication skills. However interventions that are not fully described limit the ability for replication and/or generalisability. This review identified interventions targeting pharmacy personnel. Future interventions to improve communication should consider the consumer's role in OTC consultations.

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