Background: In many developing countries, private pharmacies play an important role in providing health information and services to local communities for common health issues. The aim of this study was to ascertain medium-term impact of educational interventions on knowledge and practice of pharmacy staff regarding management of childhood diarrhea in Vietnam.
Methods: This was a pre- and post-intervention study with 32 and 44 months difference from the time of the baseline survey to the conclusion of trainings and the time of the end-line survey, respectively. Interventions included in-class training for pharmacy staff, printed materials at the pharmacy, and supportive supervision. Knowledge/reported practice and actual practice of pharmacy staff were measured before and after interventions.
Results: After interventions, significant improvements (p<0.01) were observed for all indexes related to pharmacy staff's knowledge about childhood diarrhea; for instance, 31% and 60% of surveyed staff asked about weight of the child and accompanying symptoms of childhood diarrhea, respectively, an increase from 11% and 45% at the baseline. Oral rehydration solution (ORS) was the most frequently reported product recommended (97% to 99%), but probiotics and antidiarrheals were the products most frequently prescribed at pharmacies. Public health facilities remained the preferred choice for referrals from pharmacies, but the use of private clinics was increasing. Consultations and advice provided to caregivers also improved, but considerable gaps between knowledge and actual practice of staff in real pharmacy settings remained.
Conclusions: Educational interventions were effective in improving pharmacy staff knowledge and practice regarding management of childhood diarrhea. Knowledge and actual practice of staff in real pharmacy settings did not always correlate; there is need for a stronger regulatory and law enforcement system. Interventions to improve pharmacy practice in developing countries should be focused, comprehensive, and evidence-based.