Objective: Suboptimal drug use in asthma patients is a common problem. Meeting the needs of patients and improving communication between healthcare professionals and patients are likely to induce better compliance to treatment. The contribution of community pharmacists, as healthcare professionals, to asthma care is often ignored. The objective of this study was to assess community pharmacists' understanding of asthma and to determine the perception of their role in asthma care in Turkey.
Methods: Two-hundred and fifty of the 20,133 community pharmacists in Turkey were selected as representing each city, and received questionnaires which, apart from demographic queries, asked for agreement or not with given statements.
Main outcome measure: General knowledge and perception of the pharmacists on their role in asthma management.
Results: 174 Pharmacists completed the questionnaire. Although most (66%) were satisfied with their level of knowledge in their specialty, they reported lower levels of knowledge for asthma (52%) and a need for further education (80%). 65% Believed they play a critical role in asthma care, nearly 75% preferred to referent the patient to a physician rather than counsel the patient directly. Delivery of rescue medication without prescription was extensive (91% of pharmacists) and almost half had low expectation of the treatment in terms of disease control. Between 20 and 40% of the pharmacists did not find that they were sufficiently qualified in the handling of inhalers and in inhalation technique.
Conclusions: This national survey provides insight into community pharmacists' perceptions by emphasizing their belief that they have a vital role in asthma care as both community leader and pharmacist. It also documents the need for further education and training. Improved communication and collaboration between healthcare professionals and pharmacists may contribute to improved asthma care.