Building the evidence base for community pharmacy depression services: a systematic review and multi-stakeholder consensus exercise

Natalie Weir, University of Strathclyde


Without appropriate support, mental ill health has a negative impact on people’s lives. Depression is the most common mental health condition affecting over 300 million people worldwide. This number is increasing in the UK, and over a decade the number of anti-depressants prescribed has almost doubled. People who work in community pharmacies (chemists) could help people with depression as pharmacies are widely distributed, especially in deprived areas where depression is more common, and are easy to access without an appointment. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (the professional organisation for pharmacists) considers pharmacy personnel well placed to support people with mental ill health, and pharmacy services for depression have been tested throughout the world with some promising results. These include services which help identify people with depression, and services which involve reviewing people’s depression medicines. It is unclear, however, which services help people the most or which will work best in the UK. 

Aims and objectives 

This study will gather the results of research that has been conducted on community pharmacy depression services and identify which services should be provided in the UK. 

The objectives are to conduct a: 

  1. review of the international research on community pharmacy depression services (Study 1) 
  1. formal consensus process with different groups of people to seek agreement on which community pharmacy depression services should be prioritised in the UK (Study 2) 


Study 1 will explore databases which store research studies. These studies will be read and, if relevant, important information will be extracted. This includes information on the depression services, the impact on patients (including their depressive symptoms), costs, and what made the services difficult or easy to provide. The quality of each study will be assessed. The information from all the studies will be reviewed and written as a summary of findings. This will offer a picture of what has worked and what has not worked. In Study 2, the results of Study 1 will be summarised into an online questionnaire. This will be sent to a range of people, including those who have experience of depression, healthcare professionals, and people who make policy decisions. The questionnaire will describe the services and the research findings, and participants will be asked for their opinions on key aspects including which services are a priority and could be most beneficial within the UK.  

How the results of the research will be used  

The results will identify all the important information from around the world on community pharmacy depression services. The opinions of key groups of people will be shared to underpin decisions on whether such services should be provided in the UK and, if so, what they should comprise. This will maximise value for money when conducting future research. The results will be presented to researchers, pharmacists, mental health support groups, charities, and the public (including those who have depression). Social media will be used to share the results. The results will underpin a future application to deliver and evaluate depression service(s) in the UK.