Background: Pharmaceutical care services became recognized in New Zealand in the mid-1990s, albeit with limited evidence of the acceptability and effectiveness of the model. An asthma-specific pharmaceutical care service was trialled in southern New Zealand, based on a 'problem-action-outcome' method, with pharmacists adopting a patient-centred, outcome-focused approach with multidisciplinary consultation.
Objective: To report on the implementation and outcomes of a specialist asthma service offered by community pharmacists.
Design: Pharmacists in five pharmacies, servicing predominantly rural, established clientele, received training in the asthma service and research documentation. Ten patients per pharmacy were recruited in each year (years 1 and 2) of the study. The patients were entered into the study in cohorts of five per pharmacy twice yearly, with year 2 mirroring year 1. The phase-in design minimized the impact on the pharmacists. The patients acted as their own controls. All patients received individualized care and had approximately monthly consultations with the pharmacist, with clinical and quality of life (QoL) monitoring.
Results: A total of 100 patients were recruited. On average, 4.3 medication-related problems were identified per patient; two-thirds of them were compliance-related. The most common interventions were revision of patients' asthma action plans, referral and medication counselling. Clinical outcomes included reduced bronchodilator use and improved symptom control in around two-thirds of patients. Asthma-specific QoL changes were more positive and correlated well with clinical indicators.
Conclusion: Further research is warranted to integrate this service into daily practice. Clinical outcomes were generally positive and supported by QoL indicators. Characteristics of New Zealand practice and this sample of pharmacies may limit the generalizability of these findings.