The effect of pharmacist education on asthma treatment plans for simulated patients
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OBJECTIVE: To determine if an educational program designed for community pharmacists to help patients self manage their asthma could improve pharmacists abilities to facilitate asthma treatment plans. Setting Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. METHOD: A randomized controlled trial involving volunteer community pharmacists who received either an asthma education program (AEP; intervention group) or a delayed AEP (control group). The AEP consisted of a one-day workshop and two follow-up telephone calls. Teaching methods progressed from a didactic approach to self-directed learning and role playing with simulated patients (SPs). The primary outcome was measured by SPs who conducted unannounced pharmacy visits. MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: The number of appropriate (defined a priori) action plans facilitated by the pharmacist was the primary outcome. Facilitated was defined as the pharmacist recommending a specific plan, taking responsibility for telephoning the physician, or ensuring the patient would take responsibility for contacting the physician. RESULTS: Thirty-three pharmacists were randomized to the intervention group and 31 pharmacists were randomized to the control group. Pharmacists in the intervention group facilitated an appropriate plan in 44.8% of situations (117 out of a possible 261) compared with 29.3% (79 out of a possible 270) in the control group, (mean difference 15.5% (95% CI: 7.4-23.8%; P = 0.0004)). Intervention group pharmacists were better able to facilitate plans for the 'under use of inhaled corticosteroids,' 'exposure to pet dander as an asthma trigger,' and 'overuse of short-acting beta-agonist' problems. Intervention group pharmacists exhibited better overall communication skills (including empathy, coherence, verbal skills, and nonverbal skills). CONCLUSION: This AEP produced improvements in pharmacists' abilities to facilitate plans for SPs in a community pharmacy setting.
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