A systematic review of the role of community pharmacies in improving the transition from secondary to primary care

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Nov;80(5):936-48. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12718. Epub 2015 Oct 3.


Aim: We set out to determine the potential contribution of community pharmacists to improve the transfer of care of patients from secondary to primary care settings.

Method: We systematically reviewed the literature on interventions that involved community pharmacy post-discharge. We considered all relevant studies, including both randomized and non-randomized controlled trials, irrespective of patient population. Our primary outcome was any impact on patient and medication outcomes, while the secondary outcome was to identify intervention characteristics that influenced all reported outcomes.

Results: We retrieved 14 studies that met our inclusion criteria. There were four studies reporting outcomes relating to the identification and rectification of medication errors that were significantly improved with community pharmacy involvement. Other patient outcomes such as medication adherence and clinical control were not unanimously positively or negatively influenced via the inclusion of community pharmacy in a transfer of care post-discharge intervention. Some inconsistencies in implementation and process evaluation of interventions were found across the reviewed studies. This limited the accuracy with which true impact could be considered.

Conclusions: There is evidence that interventions including a community pharmacist can improve drug related problems after discharge. However, impact on other outcomes is not consistent. Further studies are required which include process evaluations to describe fully the context of the intervention so as to determine better any influencing factors. Also applying more stringent controls and closer adherence to protocols in both intervention and control groups would allow clearer correlations to be made between the intervention and the outcomes.

Keywords: community pharmacist; community pharmacy; community pharmacy intervention; continuity of care; hospital care; transfer of care.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Pharmacy Services*
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Pharmacists*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Professional Role*
  • Secondary Care*