Background: Portuguese community pharmacies provide pharmaceutical services, such as therapeutic outcomes follow-up, supplemented by relevant point-of-care testing that require continuity of provision to be effective.
Objectives: To identify factors of technical and communication nature that during a patient interview contribute to patients' loyalty.
Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study, with a purposive sample of community pharmacies providing pharmaceutical care, was conducted. Patient interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim. Duration, segments and utterances were identified and time stamped, using a previously validated coding scheme. To identify predictors of loyalty, logistic regression analyses were performed.
Results: From 59 interviews, participants' average age was 65.7 years and 42 (71.2%) were female; 45 (76.3%) interviews were classified as outcomes measurements and 14 (23.7%) as pharmaceutical consultations, with 33.2% of the patients booking a following appointment. The significant items to explain loyalty were associated with lifestyle and psychosocial exchange, age of the patient, and the presence of all interview segments (i.e. a complete consultation).
Conclusion: Contrary to common professional beliefs and practice orientation it would appear that pharmacists' technical skills are not the essential factors that promote patients' loyalty needed for continuity of care, at least in the same extent as the social and lifestyle-related content of the exchange. Pharmaceutical care education should focus on relational skills as much as on medication-related competencies.
Keywords: Community pharmacy; Consumer satisfaction; Pharmacist counseling; Pharmacist–customer communication; Pharmacy loyalty; Portugal.
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