Practices of community pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic: potential barriers and views on providing pharmacy services in Thailand

Main Article Content

Narumol Jarernsiripornkul https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5591-9565
Kamonphat Wongtaweepkij
Disorn Pason
Thanyaporn Namwan

Keywords

community pharmacists, practices, barriers, attitudes, COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract

Background: Community pharmacists have played an essential health service role during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Practices of community pharmacists against the pandemic may differ based on the specific guidance and level of preparedness in each country. Objective: This study explored the roles of community pharmacists in disease prevention, the provision of counseling services, and the supply of medications and preventive devices as well as the potential barriers and attitudes of community pharmacists towards COVID-19 infection. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted over three months (December 2021- March 2022). Online self-administered questionnaires were distributed to the community pharmacists across Thailand. Results: Of the 835 questionnaires distributed, 339 were completed (40.6%). Almost all respondents provided alcohol sanitizers inside their pharmacies (99.1%) and advised patients about how to use Antigen Test Kits (ATK) and interpret their ATK results (98.5%). The majority of respondents also provided advice to customers about ATK screening (97.6%). Respondents in chain pharmacies were more likely to provide encouragement to customers to keep social distancing (p<0.01), use preventive devices (p=0.004), and provide telepharmacy consulting services (p<0.01). Concern about contracting COVID-19 while working was the most common barrier to providing care cited by respondents (77.6%). Respondents had positive overall attitudes towards providing COVID-related counseling and believed that training programs and information support were important to the provision of COVID-19 care (82.6% and 64.6% agreed with the respective statements). Conclusion: Our findings reveal good practices among Thai community pharmacists on providing pharmacy services during the pandemic. Information support and training programs about COVID-19 from the Thai health authorities should be developed to improve the quality of pharmacy service.

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