Examining community pharmacists’ role in relation to the use of topical corticosteroids

Exploring a community pharmacists’ role in relation to the use of topical corticosteroids

Dr Wing Man Lau, University of Reading

The safety and effectiveness of topical corticosteroids for the treatment of eczema, are well established provided that these products are used appropriately. However, many patients have fear and experience anxiety about the use of topical corticosteroids. Community pharmacists are ideally placed to provide education on topical corticosteroids before treatment begins. However, little is known about whether pharmacists’ patient counselling behaviour is influenced by their own knowledge and attitude towards information provision.

The aim of this project is to design, validate and conduct a questionnaire informed by interviews to examine community pharmacists’ knowledge, attitude towards information provision, and self-reported patient counselling behaviour in relation to topical corticosteroids and adjunct therapy for the treatment of eczema.

A mixed-methods approach was used whereby data from interviews with community pharmacists were used to design a structured questionnaire that a larger sample of community pharmacists completed anonymously. The questionnaire was completed and returned by 105 pharmacists (36% response rate). Pharmacists showed gaps in their knowledge on the use of topical corticosteroids in eczema but had good understanding on the use of emollients. There was a significant correlation between pharmacists’ attitudes to information provision and their self-reported counselling behaviour for most themes except in relation to topical corticosteroid safety where less advice was given. Improving attitudes to information provision should correlate with increased counselling behaviour. However, for the theme of corticosteroid safety, further studies are needed to examine why in practice pharmacists are not providing patient counselling on this topic even though most agreed this is a topic patients should know about.

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This work has been published in the Journal Pharmacy 20175(3), 41; doi: 10.3390/pharmacy5030041