Asthma management in the community pharmacy setting in Ireland





According to the Global Burden of Asthma report, 14.6% of the Irish population suffer from asthma. The objectives of
this study were to investigate the current state of asthma management
among patients in primary care, as estimated by their community
pharmacists; to identify any aspects of asthma management that are
infrequently addressed on counselling; to ascertain factors influencing
pharmacists’ ability to counsel; and to investigate communication
between pharmacists and other health-care professionals
Materials & Methods:
An anonymous postal questionnaire for self-administration
was distributed to every community pharmacy registered
with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland in 2010, with a
reminder letter five weeks later. Responses were coded and analysed
using SPSS v. 16.
The response rate was 43%. Respondents estimated that the
mean percentage of their asthma patients who used their inhalers
properly was 56% and typically, only 11% of their patients used a
peak flow meter regularly. 71% of respondents believed that their
asthma patients had low expectations of asthma management. On
average, respondents ‘often’ conducted interventions with their
asthma patients. However, the frequency with which interventions
were carried out varied greatly depending on the intervention. 65% of
respondents ‘always’ demonstrated the use of a newly prescribed
inhalation device. However, 67% ‘never’ advised patients to ask their
GP for an asthma management plan. There were significant age/
experience-related differences in the frequency with which several
interventions were made (p<0.05, chi-squared test). 85% of respondents
believe time is a major limitation that influences their ability to
counsel. 57% of respondents typically communicate with a GP about
an asthma patient once a week, but 17% stated that, on average they
have no such communication. 30% of respondents indicated that a
more structured method of communication is needed.
Discussions, Conclusion:
Community pharmacists believe that their
patients’ level of asthma management is sub-optimal. The majority of
respondents have a narrow perception of their role in asthma management,
evidenced by the frequency with which non-medication
related interventions are conducted. A significant improvement in
communication between pharmacists and both GPs and practice
nurses is vital to improve asthma management in primary care.

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