Health care consumers’ perspectives on pharmacist integration into private general practitioner clinics in Malaysia: a qualitative study
Authors Saw PS, Nissen L, Freeman C, Wong PS, Mak V
Received 8 September 2014
Accepted for publication 22 November 2014
Published 19 March 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 467—477
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single-blind
Peer reviewer comments 3
Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen
Pui San Saw,1 Lisa M Nissen,2,3 Christopher Freeman,2,4 Pei Se Wong,3 Vivienne Mak5
1School of Postgraduate Studies and Research, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 2School of Clinical Sciences, Queensland University Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; 3School of Pharmacy, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 4School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia; 5School of Pharmacy, Monash University Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
Background: Pharmacists are considered medication experts but are underutilized and exist mainly at the periphery of the Malaysian primary health care team. Private general practitioners (GPs) in Malaysia are granted rights under the Poison Act 1952 to prescribe and dispense medications at their primary care clinics. As most consumers obtain their medications from their GPs, community pharmacists’ involvement in ensuring safe use of medicines is limited. The integration of a pharmacist into private GP clinics has the potential to contribute to quality use of medicines. This study aims to explore health care consumers’ views on the integration of pharmacists within private GP clinics in Malaysia.
Methods: A purposive sample of health care consumers in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were invited to participate in focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Sessions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed using NVivo 10.
Results: A total of 24 health care consumers participated in two focus groups and six semi-structured interviews. Four major themes were identified: 1) pharmacists’ role viewed mainly as supplying medications, 2) readiness to accept pharmacists in private GP clinics, 3) willingness to pay for pharmacy services, and 4) concerns about GPs’ resistance to pharmacist integration. Consumers felt that a pharmacist integrated into a private GP clinic could offer potential benefits such as to provide trustworthy information on the use and potential side effects of medications and screening for medication misadventure. The potential increase in costs passed on to consumers and GPs’ reluctance were perceived as barriers to integration.
Conclusion: This study provides insights into consumers’ perspectives on the roles of pharmacists within private GP clinics in Malaysia. Consumers generally supported pharmacist integration into private primary health care clinics. However, for pharmacists to expand their capacity in providing integrated and collaborative primary care services to consumers, barriers to pharmacist integration need to be addressed.
Keywords: pharmacist integration, private clinic, general practitioners, health care consumer, Malaysia
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