Quality of care in community pharmacy linked to medication adherence

30 July 2020
Could where you buy your medicines impact how you take them?

New research from Sydney Pharmacy School shows perceived service quality is linked with prescribed medicine adherence rates, with considerable differences reported between service-focused and price-focused pharmacy consumers.

Researchers from the University of Sydney Pharmacy School, Dr Stephen Carter, Dr Carl Schneider, Dr Sarira El-Den and PhD Candidate Ms Ricki Ng from, have found a signification association between the perceived quality of care provided by community pharmacists and adherence to prescribed medication.

Their findings, which were recently published in Patient Education and Counselling, measured service quality using a newly validated patient experience measure (Perceived Service Quality - pSQ). The findings of the study indicate that when consumers rated the quality of care provided by their regular community pharmacy higher, they were more likely to self-report higher adherence to the medicines prescribed by their doctor.

While there was considerable variation between the discount pharmacies, overall, both perceived service quality and adherence rates were rated lower among consumers recruited from discount pharmacies when compared to consumers recruited from non-discount pharmacies

Ricki Ng, PhD candidate said, “While the role of medical practitioners in promoting medication adherence is well-established, this study demonstrates the potential public health benefit when community pharmacy is person-centred. The quality of care provided by all health providers is important when it comes to adherence.”

Dr Carl Schneider added, “When community pharmacies are deliberately designed and managed to provide person-centred care, their clients report improved adherence to their medication. To achieve this, we have identified that a pharmacy needs technically proficient staff who provide personalised service and build supportive relationships with their clients. And this all needs to be provided within a comfortable environment.”

Lead co-author Dr Stephen Carter concluded that what we have here is a signal. "Future work is needed to explore exactly how lower service quality leads to poorer medication adherence. Another possibility is that consumers who are non-adherent seek out discount stores, possibly to avoid sometimes difficult conversations (about adherence).

Either way, since better service is associated with better outcomes, policy makers should consider whether incentive/disincentive mechanisms are built into remuneration systems for the supply of medicines, to motivate pharmacy managers to focus on service quality, and ultimately patient care”, he said.

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