Community pharmacy teams could play a “pivotal” role in the care of patients with depression or pain, a study in Research and Social Administrative Pharmacy has concluded.
Researchers undertook a systematic review of 13 studies, carried out in the United States, Australia, Thailand and parts of Europe, to find out the effect of existing community pharmacy programmes on outcomes in patients with depression and/or pain. Seven of the studies looked at depression specifically, while six looked at pain.
They found that most studies demonstrated an improvement in measures of depression or pain; although, compared with usual care, most of the depression- and pain-specific interventions did not provide additional symptomatic benefit.
The authors said that this could be owing to antidepressant and analgesic use potentially masking the effects of the pharmacy intervention.
However, the community pharmacy-based interventions were found to be superior for other outcomes, including medication adherence and reducing stigma in the depression studies, and improvements in self-efficacy and general management of disease in the pain studies.
“The role [of community pharmacists] goes beyond the dispensing of medications and can include interventions that include extensive patient education, clinical evaluations, mindfulness therapy, and coordination of care among PCPs [primary care physicians] and physiotherapists,” the authors concluded.
However, they added that, to achieve clinical success and scalability, the interventions should be personalised to respond to the unique needs of patients and compensate the community pharmacist for delivering the additional clinical service.
“I would certainly agree that community pharmacists occupy a vital space in the management of patients with long-term conditions, including mental health conditions,” said Ciara Ni Dhubhlaing, president of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy.
“Pharmacists are also skilled at information gathering and coordination. People regularly collecting prescriptions build up a relationship and a trust with their community pharmacist — when completing medicines reconciliation, hospital-admitted patients often know their community pharmacist by name and speak very highly of them.”
Dhubhlaing added that attending a community pharmacy was usually a “safe, non-threatening and familiar place” where people were used to seeking help or advice.
“It is important that community pharmacists feel competent in responding to requests for information and advice on mental health conditions,” she added.