A naturalistic observation study of medication counseling practices at retail chain pharmacies

Main Article Content


Counseling, Professional Practice, Pharmaceutical Services, Pharmacies, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, Waiting Lists, Cross-Sectional Studies, Linear Models, Texas


Objective: This study evaluated medication counseling procedures and trends at retail pharmacies in the Houston metropolitan area through a naturalistic observational study.

Methods: A blinded cross-sectional observational study was conducted at retail pharmacies in the Houston metropolitan area. Data were collected by trained observers utilizing an observational log, to record various parameters that could have an impact on the duration of patient-pharmacist interaction in a naturalistic pharmacy practice setting. Additionally, indicators of counseling such as utilization of the counseling window and performance of show-and-tell were recorded. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, t-tests, Pearson correlations, ANOVAs, and multiple linear regressions.

Results: One hundred and sixty-five interactions between patients and pharmacy staff were recorded at 45 retail pharmacies from 7 retail pharmacy chains. The counseling window was utilized in only 3 (1.81%) out of 165 observations and the show-and-tell process was observed in just 1(0.61%) interaction during this study. Mean (SD) interaction time between patient and pharmacists [159.50 (84.50)] was not statistically different (p>0.05) from the mean interaction time between patients and pharmacy technicians [139.30 (74.19)], irrespective of type of the retail chain observed. However, it was influenced by the number of patients waiting in queue. Patient wait time significantly differed by the time of the day the interaction was observed, weekends and weekdays had significantly different wait times and patient interaction times Multiple linear regression analyses indicated that, patient interaction time, pharmacy chain type, initial contact (pharmacist/technician), and time of the day, were significantly associated with patient wait time whereas patient wait time, pharmacy chain type, number of patients in queue, and number of pharmacy technician were significantly associated with interaction time.

Conclusions: Our study found that the key indicators of counseling including the use of the counseling window and the show-and-tell process were absent, suggesting lack of adequate pharmacists counseling. Further studies are needed to evaluate the validity of this conclusion and the role of pharmacy services and its value towards medication use and safety.

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