Background and objective: the global prevalence of allergic rhinitis (AR) is rising and yet there is scarce information concerning the diagnosis, management and treatment patterns of AR in Northern Cyprus (NC). This study aims to provide a unique perspective on AR management as well as assessing the effectiveness of the pharmacist-led educational intervention for improving care of AR patients.
Methods: across-sectional survey was carried out with community pharmacists (n = 70), patients (n = 138) and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists (n = 12) in NC. For a controlled interventional trial, trained pharmacists provided a brief education on management of AR and nasal spray technique for patients while other pharmacists provided the usual care. Quality of life (QoL) and other outcome measures on the perceived symptom severity of the two groups were compared after a 6-week period.
Results: only 33.3% of the ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists and 15.7% of the community pharmacists are aware of the Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines. The majority of patients (63%) self-managed with over-the-counter medications. Nasal congestion (96.4%) is the most bothersome symptom and oral antihistamines are the most commonly purchased medications (51.4%), indicating a pattern of suboptimal management. The pharmacists-led educational intervention has resulted in statistically more significant improvement in regards to nasal congestion and QoL for the intervention group patients (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: the current management of AR has not been in accordance with the ARIA guidelines in NC. An educational intervention of the pharmacists can enhance the symptom management and improve the QoL in patients with AR.
Keywords: ARIA; ENT specialist; Northern Cyprus; allergic rhinitis; community pharmacist.