Evaluation of the effectiveness of UK community pharmacists' interventions in community palliative care

Palliat Med. 2002 May;16(3):219-25. doi: 10.1191/0269216302pm533oa.


Introduction: In 1997, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain Working Party reported that UK community pharmacists had a crucial role in effective medicines management and effective symptom control for those receiving palliative care in the community. However, prior to the integration of community pharmacists into the community palliative team, it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of their pharmaceutical interventions.

Aim: To assess the effectiveness of community pharmacists' clinical interventions in supporting palliative care patients in primary care using an independent multidisciplinary panel review.

Methods: Patients with a life expectancy of less than 12 months were each registered with a single pharmacy and their consent was obtained for the community pharmacists to access their general practitioner (GP) case records. The community pharmacists received training in palliative pharmaceutical care and documenting interventions. The trained community pharmacists provided palliative pharmaceutical care to the recruited patients. At the end of a 10-month period, the clinical interventions were reviewed by an independent multidisciplinary expert panel consisting of a palliative care consultant, a Macmillan nurse (community palliative care nurse) and a hospital pharmacist with special interest in palliative care.

Results: Fourteen community palliative care teams (including community pharmacists, GPs and community nurses) took part in the study and 25 patients were recruited over the 10-month recording period. All but one patient had a diagnosis of cancer; the other patient had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. By the end of the project, 14 patients had died. Community pharmacists recorded a total of 130 clinical interventions. Thirty interventions were excluded as insufficient information had been documented to allow review by the panel. Eighty-one per cent of the interventions were judged by the expert panel likely to be beneficial. However, 3% were judged likely to be detrimental to the patients' well-being.

Conclusions: Most of the clinical interventions made by the community pharmacists for palliative pharmaceutical care were judged by the expert panel as being likely to be beneficial. The result supports the view that when community pharmacists are appropriately trained and included as integrated members of the team, they can intervene effectively to improve pharmaceutical care for palliative care patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Community Health Services / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Palliative Care / standards*
  • Pharmacists / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Professional Role
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • United Kingdom