20.07.2020 | Research Article | Ausgabe 4/2020
Community pharmacists’ professional practices for complementary medicines: a qualitative study in New Zealand
International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
- Joanne Barnes, Rachael Butler
Background Complementary medicines are a popular healthcare choice among patients/consumers, and most pharmacies sell these products. Pharmacists are well-placed to advise on complementary medicines, but their training and practices for these products are not optimal. Pharmacists’ professional practices for complementary medicines ought to be influenced by professional codes of ethics and standards. Objective To examine community pharmacists’ perspectives on complementary medicines in New Zealand, including motivations and justifications for selling these products, and professional and ethical issues complementary medicines raise for pharmacists. Setting Community pharmacists in New Zealand. Method Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 27 New Zealand practising community pharmacists identified through purposive and convenience sampling. Main outcome measure Participants’ views, experiences, and professional practices for complementary medicines. Results Participants struggled to clearly describe products they considered complementary medicines. Perspectives towards these products ranged from strongly supportive to somewhat sceptical; none was strongly opposed. Participants had several motivations for selling complementary medicines, particularly consumer demand and profits. Participants acknowledged ethical issues concerning complementary medicines, including lack of evidence of efficacy and pharmacists’ limited training/knowledge. Few referred explicitly to complementary-medicines-related statements in the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand's Code of Ethics, or indicated these guided their practice. Conclusion Participants sold complementary medicines despite having limited knowledge on these products and concerns about efficacy; participants justified this as they believe they are providing an holistic option for patients, and/or ensuring complementary medicines do no harm. Participants were mindful of ethical/professional issues regarding complementary medicines, but were not necessarily aware of, or guided by, explicit statements in the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand's Code of Ethics.