Expanding the clinical role of community pharmacy: A qualitative ethnographic study of medication reviews in Ontario, Canada

Health Policy. 2018 Mar;122(3):256-262. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2017.10.007. Epub 2017 Nov 4.


Medication reviews by community pharmacists are an increasingly common strategy to improve medication management for chronic conditions, and are part of wider efforts to make more effective use of community-based health professionals. To identify opportunities to optimize the medication review program in Ontario, Canada, we explored how providers and clients interpret and operationalize medication reviews within everyday community pharmacy practice. We conducted a qualitative ethnographic study at four pharmacies in Ontario, Canada, including non-participant observation of provider and client activities and interactions with specific attention to medication reviews, as well as brief ethnographic interviews with providers and clients, and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with providers. We report on 72h of field research, observation of 178 routine pharmacist-client interactions and 29 medication reviews, 62 brief ethnographic interviews with providers and clients, and 7 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with providers. We found that medication reviews were variably conducted across the dimensions of duration, provider type, location, and interaction style, and that local contexts and system-wide developments influence their meaning and practice. Medication reviews are exemplary of policy efforts to enhance the role of community pharmacies within health systems and the scope of practice of pharmacists as healthcare professionals. Our study highlights the importance of the local structure of community pharmacy practice and the clinical aspirations of pharmacists in the delivery of medication reviews.

Keywords: Community pharmacy; Health policy; Medication reviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural*
  • Community Pharmacy Services / organization & administration*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Ontario
  • Pharmacists / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional Role*
  • Qualitative Research