Differences between pharmacists’ perception of counseling and practice in the era of prescription drug misuse

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Counseling, Prescription Drug Misuse, Professional Practice, Pharmacies, Pharmacists, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, Opioid Epidemic, Focus Groups, Texas


Objective: This study was conducted to assess pharmacists’ practices when counseling patients on their prescription medications, and their preferences for training.

Methods: Five focus group discussions of community pharmacists (n=45, with seven to eleven participants in each group) were conducted in a major metropolitan city in the southern United States. Participants were recruited via email using a list of community pharmacists provided by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy.  All focus group discussions were structured using a moderator guide consisting of both discrete and open-ended questions. Qualitative analysis software was used to analyze the data with a thematic analysis approach.

Results: The participants in this study had a high self-efficacy regarding their ability to counsel on both new and opioid prescriptions. Many pharmacists experienced the same barriers to counseling and agreed on the components of counseling. However, the themes that emerged showed that the participants exhibited only a partial understanding of the components of counseling. The themes that emerged in the thematic analysis were perceived confidence and discordant counseling practices, inadequate infrastructure, lack of comprehensive counseling, inconsistent use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), and pharmacists’ desired training/assistance. 

Conclusions: Community pharmacists are in a unique position to help combat the opioid crisis; however, there has been very little research on the pharmacist-patient interaction in this context. With policy changes, such as the PDMP mandate, going into effect across the country, it is important to capitalize on the potential community pharmacists have in ameliorating the opioid crisis in the United States.

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