Objective: To test the feasibility, effectiveness, and sustainability of a pharmacy asthma service in primary care.
Methods: A pragmatic cluster randomized trial in community pharmacies in four Australian states/territories in 2009. Specially trained pharmacists were randomized to deliver an asthma service in two groups, providing three versus four consultations over 6 months. People with poorly controlled asthma or no recent asthma review were included. Follow-up for 12 months after service completion occurred in 30% of randomly selected completing patients. Outcomes included change in asthma control (poor and fair/good) and Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) score, inhaler technique, quality of life, perceived control, adherence, asthma knowledge, and asthma action plan ownership.
Results: Ninety-six pharmacists enrolled 570 patients, with 398 (70%) completing. Asthma control significantly improved with both the three- and four-visit service, with no significant difference between groups (good/fair control 29% and 21% at baseline, 61% and 59% at end, p = .791). Significant improvements were also evident in the ACQ (mean change 0.56), inhaler technique (17-33% correct baseline, 57-72% end), asthma action plan ownership (19% baseline, 56% end), quality of life, adherence, perceived control, and asthma knowledge, with no significant difference between groups for any variable. Outcomes were sustained at 12 months post-service.
Conclusions: The pharmacy asthma service delivered clinically important improvements in both a three-visit and four-visit service. Pharmacists were able to recruit and deliver the service with minimal intervention, suggesting it is practical to implement in practice. The three-visit service would be feasible and effective to implement, with a review at 12 months.