Background: Patient preferences can influence the outcomes of treatment and so understanding and organizing health-care services around these preferences is vital.
Objective: To explore patient preferences for types of community pharmacy-based asthma services, to investigate the influence of "experience" in molding preferences for such services, and to identify aspects of the services that patients prefer over others.
Methods: Semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of two types of asthma patients: (1) those naïve to a specialized asthma service and (2) those who had experienced a specialized asthma service. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed.
Results: Eighteen interviews were conducted (8 experienced patients, 10 naïve patients). The majority of the patients wanted the pharmacist to play a greater role in their asthma management. Patients experiencing increased levels of service had increased levels of expectations as well as more specific preferences for various aspects of the service. The key aspects of an asthma service that all patients wanted their pharmacists to provide were the provision of information about asthma and its medications, lung function testing and monitoring of their asthma, and checking/correcting their inhaler technique. Patients also expressed a desire for skilled communication and behavioral aspects from the pharmacist such as friendliness, empathy, attentiveness, and dedicated time. Patients highlighted the importance of privacy in the pharmacy. There was a high level of satisfaction toward the currently delivered asthma service among both naïve and experienced patients. The provision of the specialized service was associated with increased patient loyalty to the particular pharmacy. All patients indicated a willingness to participate in future pharmacy-delivered specialized asthma services.
Discussion: Elements of the specialized pharmacy-based asthma services important from a patient's perspective were identified. It would be important to identify the strength and magnitude of patient's preferences for different elements of such services. Future pharmacy-based services should incorporate patient preferences and tailor services to patient's needs to ensure their long-term viability.