What is known and objective: Asthma is a National Health Priority Area in Australia; however, recent evidence suggests that its management remains suboptimal. Community pharmacists are in a unique position to help patients manage asthma, and a number of community pharmacy-based asthma interventions have demonstrated effectiveness with improved patient outcomes. This study aimed to explore the views of general practitioners (GPs), community pharmacists and patients towards a pharmacy-based intervention that saw patients with poorly managed asthma supplied with educational material and referred to their GP for an asthma management review.
Methods: A qualitative follow-up study of participants who had been involved in the intervention was conducted. A sample of six GPs, 10 community pharmacists and 10 patients participated in semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Data were analysed using interpretive phenomenology.
Results and discussion: General practitioners accepted the intervention process if they had positive relationships with pharmacists. There was also some hesitance of GPs towards the intervention, related to a perceived encroachment on their area of responsibility and a perceived conflict of interest of pharmacists in providing health care. GPs indicated the need to be more involved with the intervention process, and expressed that patients were rarely forthcoming about problems with their asthma. Community pharmacists felt that patients can be apathetic about asthma and often fail to seek medical advice. The intervention was implemented very easily, with minimal disruptions to the pharmacists' workflow, and pharmacists suggested that it would be better if GPs were more involved with the intervention process. Patients' general satisfaction with pharmacy services was high, but their expectations were quite low. Although there was an appreciation by patients of community pharmacists' interest in their health, this did not necessarily translate into appointments with GPs for an asthma management review. The reason for this related primarily to patients' under-estimation of their asthma severity.
What is new and conclusion: A wider rollout of the asthma intervention, with an improved process for involving GPs, would be feasible and well accepted. Further research should determine the best approach in influencing patients' perceptions of asthma control and whether these perceptions are amenable to a more intensive educational intervention. This could result in more efficient asthma interventions, translating to improved patient outcomes.
© 2010 The Authors. JCPT © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.