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Pharmacy Technicians’ Perception About Symptoms and Concerns of Older Patients Visiting Pharmacies: A Cross-Sectional Study

Authors Homann K, Bertsche T, Schiek S

Received 28 August 2020

Accepted for publication 8 December 2020

Published 15 January 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 103—114


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Katharina Homann,1,2 Thilo Bertsche,1,2 Susanne Schiek1,2

1Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Institute of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany; 2Drug Safety Center, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany

Correspondence: Thilo Bertsche
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Institute of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Leipzig University, Brüderstr. 32, Leipzig 04103, Germany
Tel +49 341 97 11800
Fax +49 341 97 11849

Purpose: Older patients are still not sufficiently integrated into multidisciplinary care concepts including geriatric and palliative care. They do, however, regularly visit pharmacies to fill prescriptions or to buy self-medication. Thus, they have frequent contact with pharmacy technicians (PTs), who are widely involved in counselling in Germany. However, it is not known whether geriatric symptoms are recognized by PTs and to what extent older patients use their pharmacy to address geriatric or palliative concerns. This study aimed to investigate PTs’ impression of older patients’ symptoms, geriatric and palliative concerns in consultations, as well as multidisciplinary collaboration.
Patients and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study in April–May 2019. Using a self-administered questionnaire, PTs were asked about (i) geriatric symptoms, (ii) geriatric and palliative concerns older patients expressed in routine consultations, (iii) supposed reasons for inadequate care, and (iv) PTs’ desire for multidisciplinary cooperation.
Results: (i) The 5 most common symptoms the 339 participating PTs recognized in the community pharmacy were pain, insomnia, restricted mobility, eye disorders, and constipation. (ii) The three most frequently addressed non-drug-related geriatric palliative concerns were mental strain, loneliness, and mourning. (iii) As reasons for inadequate patient care, PTs predominantly mentioned patient-related reasons (299 of 518 reasons, 58%). (iv) 85% of the PTs desired closer cooperation with general practitioners, 84% with nursing services and 39% with palliative physicians.
Conclusion: PTs frequently saw older patients visiting the pharmacy who suffer from a variety of symptoms. PTs were additionally confronted with diverse geriatric or palliative concerns. We deduce, first, a need for PT training in geriatric and palliative care. Second, multidisciplinary care concepts and research should include pharmacies because they seem to be a low-threshold contact to older patients, who might need access to adequate care.

Keywords: geriatrics, palliative care, interdisciplinary health team, community pharmacy, symptom burden

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