The competency of Indonesian pharmacy students in handling a self-medication request for a cough: a simulated patient study

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Cough, Antitussive Agents, Self Medication, Referral and Consultation, Students, Pharmacy, Pharmacists, Patient Simulation, Logistic Models, Multivariate Analysis, Indonesia


Background: Cough is a common symptom for which people frequently present to community pharmacies. Previous articles from developing countries have shown that the provision of self-medication consultation for cough in community pharmacies were suboptimal, with knowledge deficiency being a contributing factor. However, little is known regarding the ability of pharmacy students in handling self-medication consultations in developing countries.

Objectives: To measure the competency of Indonesian pharmacy students in providing self-medication consultations for patients with chronic cough and to identify factors associated with the provision of appropriate advice.

Method: This study is a cross-sectional study. A simulated patient method using a product and a symptom-based request of chronic cough was used in students from a pharmacy school in Indonesia. The nature and amount of information gathered and advice provided by pharmacy students were noted and audio-recorded. A logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with the provision of appropriate advice.

Results: The information gathered by participating students was not comprehensive. The most common types of information gathered were related to the nature and duration of the cough. Information relating to accompanying symptoms, medications, and allergies was gathered in less than 60% of the participating students for both product and symptom based scenarios. The appropriate advice of direct medical referral was provided in 54% and 56% of the 183 participating students for the product and symptom-based request scenarios respectively. Asking about symptom duration and prior medical conditions were positively associated with the provision of appropriate advice in the symptom and product based requests respectively.

Conclusion: Student competency in self-medication consultation for chronic cough needs to be improved. Appropriate information-gathering is a predictor of appropriate advice. Further qualitative research identifying factors affecting students’ competence in providing self-medication consultation is required, so that suitable interventions are developed and implemented.

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