An exploration of pharmacist-patient communication in clinic-style consultations

Greenhill, Nicola H. (2010) An exploration of pharmacist-patient communication in clinic-style consultations. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The importance of communication skills for pharmacists has been widely acknowledged. Research has shown that the use of good communication skills can improve patient health outcomes but little research has focussed on communication within new consultation based roles of pharmacists. This study aimed to explore the communication between pharmacists and patients in clinic style consultations and to investigate participant perceptions of communication and consultations.

Eleven pharmacists were recruited to the study and were responsible for the recruitment of patients from their own practice; five pharmacists recruited a total of 18 patients. A semi-structured interview was conducted with each pharmacist and with each patient before and after their consultation. Consultations were audio-recorded and observed and all recordings were transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis based on the principles of grounded theory was conducted. Consultations were additionally coded according to the Calgary–Cambridge guide. NHS Ethics and local research and development approvals were obtained.

The data show that patient reports of communication skills during consultations can lack detail, indicating that actual consultation data is required in order to assess communication skills. Pharmacists reported a lack of communication skills training and stated that additional training would need to be focussed on specific, relevant skills and should involve underpinning theory combined with observation of practice and personalised feedback.

Pharmacists observed in this study used of a variety of methods for structuring consultations including official computerised or paper based forms, rehearsed segments of speech, and mental checklists. Some difficulties in using computers in a way that did not interfere with communication were identified. Further training may help pharmacists to more effectively structure their consultations.

The participants reported that location has important effects on the communication within consultations. Both pharmacists and patients valued privacy in enabling open and honest consultations, particularly in community pharmacy. While it was reported that infrequent use of consultation rooms can lead to stigma being associated with private consultations, the data suggest that having a dedicated space for pharmacist-patient consultations is important.

Application of the Calgary-Cambridge guide to recorded consultations showed good usage of many of the skills by the study pharmacists but skills linked to creating a patient centred consultation were under-represented. Some data did not correspond to a specific skill within the guide. Analysis showed the key theme of social conversation, which is essential for relationship building, was present in the non-coded data. Building up a relationship was reported by both pharmacists and patients as important in facilitating communication and that trust in particular played an important part in achieving successful consultations.

The study methods enabled collection of rich data about pharmacist-patient communication. The data show that many factors can influence communication within consultations including pharmacist training, location, relationships, structure and use of computers. Pharmacists may need to think widely when aiming to achieve effective consultations. The data suggest that pharmacists made good use of communication skills during consultations but could improve use of the skills that create patient-centred consultations. The Calgary-Cambridge guide could be used to focus both training and research in this area.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Anderson, C.
Avery, A.J.
Pilnick, A.
Keywords: pharmacy, communication, pharmacist-patient interaction
Subjects: R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Pharmacy
Item ID: 11659
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2011 14:03
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 19:22

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