Aims: The objective of this study was to determine the educational needs of community pharmacists in Australia related to palliative cancer care, to guide the development of an online educational program for pharmacists.
Methods: Questionnaires were posted to a random sample of community pharmacies in Australia. The questionnaire sought information pertaining to pharmacists': demographics; educational needs by rating the importance of learning more about 18 palliative cancer care topics and self-perceived level of knowledge of them; preference for format(s) for the program; willingness to participate in the program; and perception regarding their practice of palliative cancer care. Results were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.5 software.
Main results: A questionnaire return rate of 10.3% was achieved. The characteristics of respondents were reflective of community pharmacy practice in Australia when compared with the latest available labour force figures by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Pharmacists rated all 18 topics as "important/essential", and their level of knowledge of them as "poor/good". Pharmacists preferred information provided in these formats: text (89.8%), case studies (80.6%) and multi-choice questions (69.4%). Most pharmacists (85.2%) indicated that they would participate in the program. The majority of pharmacists (71.3%) reported that they deliver palliative cancer care services; usually less-than-monthly (24.1%) or weekly (21.3%).
Conclusions: Educational needs of community pharmacists in palliative cancer care were identified. The information gathered will assist in guiding the development of an online educational program for pharmacists to improve their knowledge and skills in palliative cancer care.