Pharmaceutical care: the PCNE definition 2013

Int J Clin Pharm. 2014 Jun;36(3):544-55. doi: 10.1007/s11096-014-9933-x. Epub 2014 Apr 20.


Background: Twenty-three years after Hepler and Strand published their well-known definition of Pharmaceutical Care (PhC), confusion remains about what the term includes and how to differentiate it from other terms. The board of the Pharmaceutical Care Network Europe (PCNE) felt the need to redefine PhC and to answer the question: "What is Pharmaceutical Care in 2013".

Objective: The aims of this paper were to review existing definitions of PhC and to describe the process of developing a redefined definition.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in the MEDLINE database (1964-January 2013). Keywords included "Pharmaceutical Care", "Medication (Therapy) Management", "Medicine Management", and "Pharmacist Care" in the title or abstract together with the term "defin*". To ease comparison between definitions, we developed a standardised syntax to paraphrase the definitions. During a dedicated meeting, a moderated discussion about the definition of PhC was organised.

Results: The initial literature search produced 186 hits, with eight unique PhC definitions. Hand searching identified a further 11 unique definitions. These 19 definitions were paraphrased using the standardised syntax (provider, recipient, subject, outcome, activities). Fourteen members of PCNE and 10 additional experts attended the moderated discussion. Working groups of increasing size developed intermediate definitions, which had similarities and differences to those retrieved in the literature search. At the end of the session, participants reached a consensus on a "PCNE definition of Pharmaceutical Care" reading: "Pharmaceutical Care is the pharmacist's contribution to the care of individuals in order to optimize medicines use and improve health outcomes".

Conclusions: It was possible to paraphrase definitions of PhC using a standardised syntax focusing on the provider, recipient, subject, outcomes, and activities included in PhC practice. During a one-day workshop, experts in PhC research agreed on a definition, intended to be applicable for the present time, representative for various work settings, and valid for countries inside and outside of Europe.

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Services / classification
  • Pharmaceutical Services / organization & administration*