Gout is an increasingly prevalent form of inflammatory arthritis. Although effective treatments for gout exist, current management is suboptimal due to low medication adherence rates and treatments that are non-concordant with guidelines. Medications are the mainstay and most effective form of gout management. Thus, there is potential for community pharmacists to play an important primary health care role in gout management, however their current role and their potential to improve management of gout treatment is currently unclear. The purpose of the study is to explore the views of Australian pharmacists on their roles in gout management and to identify factors influencing their involvement in gout management.
A convenience sample of community pharmacists were invited to participate using a snowballing recruitment strategy. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 15 pharmacists of varying age, gender and pharmacy experience. Interviews focused on pharmacists’ experiences of managing gout, interactions with people living with gout and their perceived roles and responsibilities in gout management. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and independently analysed by two reviewers to identify themes.
The main role of pharmacists reported in gout management was providing patient education. The greatest facilitator to pharmacists involvement in gout management was identified to be pharmacists’ good understanding of gout and its management. Barriers to pharmacists involvement were identified to be difficulties in monitoring adherence to gout medications, low priority given to gout in the pharmacy compared to other chronic health conditions, and lack of specific training and/or continuing education in gout prevention and management.
Pharmacists can expand their primary health care role in gout management, particularly in the area of ongoing provision of education to people living with gout and in monitoring medication adherence in patients. However, a number of barriers need to be overcome including difficulties in monitoring patient adherence to medications, ensuring a higher priority is given to chronic gout management and providing continuing training to community pharmacists about gout. Implications for pharmacist practice include initiating conversations about medication adherence and education when dispensing medications and undertaking continuing education in gout.