Objectives: The extent to which community pharmacists contribute to the management of the global obesity epidemic is unclear. Local, regional and national obesity management schemes need to be informed by existing services which will be influenced by health professionals' attitudes and willingness to engage in service provision. The purpose of this study was to derive an accurate account of community pharmacists' activities and attitudes towards the provision of current and future Healthy Weight Management (HWM) services.
Methods: A postal survey was developed and disseminated to all 128 community pharmacies in Grampian, north-east Scotland.
Key findings: The response rate was 64.8% (83/128). A range of HWM services was already being provided. The most common services offered were the supply of weight-loss medication (n=69, 84.1%) and advice about its use (n=68, 84.0%). Other services commonly offered were dietary advice (n=59, 72.8%), physical activity advice (n=53, 66.3%) and body mass index (BMI) calculation (n=56, 68.3%). Most pharmacists were confident in measuring weight (n=78, 93.9%), height (n=78, 93.9%) and BMI (n=78, 93.9%). Many pharmacists perceived a need for HWM services in their local area (n=56, 67.5%) as well as a need to extend these services within their pharmacies (n=48, 57.9%). Barriers to the provision of HWM services included workload (n=77, 92.8%) and the need for additional reimbursement (n=63, 75.9%) and additional staff (n=49, 59.7%). The pharmacists' perceived training needs included estimation of body fat (n=67, 81.7%), one-to-one consultation skills (n=60, 73.2%), advice on weight-loss products (n=52, 63.4%), measurement of blood cholesterol (n=51, 63%) and advice on weight-loss drugs (n=49, 60.5%).
Conclusions: Community pharmacies could be an ideal setting for the provision of HWM services. The barriers to service provision need to be addressed. Furthermore, the development of appropriate undergraduate and postgraduate training is required to equip pharmacists and their staff with appropriate knowledge and skills to deliver these services effectively.
© 2011 The Authors. IJPP © 2011 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.