Provision of palliative care services by pharmacists to patients with advanced cancer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract

Background and Objective: Medicines optimisation for patients with advanced cancer has the potential to reduce medication-related burden and enhance quality of life as death approaches. The study aim was to explore the role of community pharmacists in palliative care provision and the key issues experienced in relation to medication use for patients with advanced cancer.

Setting and Method: A mixed methods study involving a quantitative self completed questionnaire and qualitative semi-structured interviews. The questionnaire was developed, piloted and mailed on two occasions (September and November 2017) to all community pharmacies in Northern Ireland (n=532). Interview participants were selected at random from questionnaire respondents,
and provided written informed consent. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. This phase is ongoing and will continue until no novel themes emerge.

Main outcome measures:
Views regarding role in palliative care provision; challenges experienced in relation to medication use for patients with advanced cancer.

Results: One hundred and twenty questionnaires were returned (response rate: 22.5%). Sixty percent of respondents were female, mean age was 39 years and mean number of years practicing as a community pharmacist was 4.5 years. Most pharmacists were notified of patients’ palliative care status by patients or carers (96%) or from the nature of prescribing (88%) with smaller numbers
informed by general practitioners, district nurses or hospitals/hospices (26%, 31% and 27% respectively). The main medication issue was reported to be stock availability. Half of participants reported never undertaking a review of advanced cancer patients’ medication, with inadequate time or incentive, lack of patient information and limited communication with the patient cited as barriers. Almost all participants (97.5%) stated they would benefit from further training, specifically in end of life discussions and anticipatory prescribing. One quarter (n=30) agreed to participate in an interview. Qualitative data collection is ongoing; seven interviews have been conducted and analysed to date.

Conclusion: Community pharmacists often encounter patients with advanced cancer and their carers, however training in end of life discussions and anticipatory prescribing must be developed to facilitate pharmacists in this role. Improved communication between healthcare professionals and enhancing the role of the community pharmacist within the palliative multidisciplinary care team should be considered.

Disclosure of Interest: None Declared
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2018
EventEuropean Society of Clinical Pharmacy 47th International Symposium on Clinical Pharmacy - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Oct 201826 Oct 2018

Conference

ConferenceEuropean Society of Clinical Pharmacy 47th International Symposium on Clinical Pharmacy
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBelfast
Period24/10/201826/10/2018

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