Utilization of simulated patients to assess diabetes and asthma counseling practices among community pharmacists in Qatar
Background Patient counseling is one of the most important services a pharmacist can provide to patients. Studies have shown that counseling provided by pharmacists may prevent medication related problems and improve adherence to medication therapy. Objective To explore counseling practices among community pharmacists using simulated patients and to determine if patient, pharmacist, and pharmacy characteristics influence the counseling provided by community pharmacists. Setting Private community pharmacies within Qatar. Method This is a randomized, cross sectional study where simulated patients visited community pharmacies and presented the pharmacist with a new prescription or requested a refill for either a diabetes or asthma medication. Pharmacists completed a questionnaire at the end of the simulated interaction, which was utilized to determine if patient, pharmacist, or pharmacy characteristics had any influence on the counseling provided to patients. A scoring system was devised to assess the pharmacist’s counseling practices. Main outcome measure To evaluate the type of information provided by community pharmacists to the simulated patient regarding diabetes and asthma. Results One hundred and twenty-nine pharmacists were enrolled in the study. Eighty one percent of pharmacists had a score <35%. Medication name (95%), directions (47%), indication (43%), and dose (41%) were the most frequently counseled components by pharmacists during the simulated interaction. Male patients received better counseling compared to the female patients (t = 6.177; p < 0.0001). Pharmacists with a master of pharmacy degree provided significantly better counseling (f = 3.261; p = 0.042). Many pharmacists (65%) provided hypoglycemia management to patients, however, 63% referred the patient to the physician when the patient experienced hypoglycemia from inappropriate medication administration. Only 2 (7%) pharmacists correctly counseled the patient on all 8 inhaler administration steps. Majority of pharmacists (50%) educated on the role of the rescue and controller therapy in asthma, however, 33% referred the patient to the physician when the patient inquired about controller therapy use. Conclusion Patient counseling was substandard with the majority of community pharmacists focusing on the name of the medication. Pharmacists rarely assessed patient’s medical history or medication use. Disease management and problem solving skills of pharmacists were suboptimal with many referring patients back to the physician.