Barriers and facilitators for information exchange in over-the-counter consultations in community pharmacy: a focus group study

Liza J Seubert, Kerry Whitelaw, Fabienne Boeni, Laetitia Hattingh, Margaret C Watson, Rhonda M Clifford

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Consumers are confident managing minor ailments through self-care, often self-medicating from a range of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines available from community pharmacies. To minimise risks, pharmacy personnel endeavour to engage in a consultation when consumers present with OTC enquiries however they find consumers resistant. The aim was to determine stakeholder perspectives regarding barriers and facilitators for information exchange during OTC consultations in community pharmacies and to understand the elicited themes in behavioural terms. Focus groups were undertaken with community pharmacist, pharmacy assistant and consumer participants. Independent duplicate analysis of transcription data was conducted using inductive and framework methods. Eight focus groups involving 60 participants were conducted. Themes that emerged indicated consumers did not understand pharmacists' professional role, they were less likely to exchange information if asking for a specific product than if asking about symptom treatment, and they wanted privacy. Consumers were confident to self-diagnose and did not understand OTC medicine risks. Pharmacy personnel felt a duty of care to ensure consumer safety, and that with experience communication skills developed to better engage consumers in consultations. They also identified the need for privacy. Consumers need education about community pharmacists' role and responsibilities to motivate them to engage in OTC consultations. They also require privacy when doing so.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2017


  • communication
  • nonprescription drugs
  • over-the-counter drugs
  • pharmacists
  • pharmacy
  • focus groups

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