Studies suggest that nearly a quarter of all requests for symptomatic advice in pharmacies are for skin problems. With a wide range of over the counter (OTC) skincare products, community pharmacists and medicine counter assistants (MCAs) have a potentially important role in facilitating self-care in these patients. However, little is known about the factors influencing staff in their choice of skincare products or if they perceive themselves to have sufficient knowledge of dermatology to undertake this role.
The aims of the present study were to: understand the factors that influence pharmacists and MCAs in their choice of OTC skincare products; to explore any dermatology training needs.
Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with a sample of ten pharmacists and 15 MCAs from a range of community pharmacy settings in the north of England. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed for recurring themes using the Framework Approach.
Key themes related to choice of skincare products among pharmacists were: positive client feedback, clinical guidelines, treatment costs and patient specific factors. While MCAs also based treatment choices on client feedback, they raised the issue of their own personal experience of using particular products. Pharmacists and MCAs highlighted a need for further dermatology related training, particularly in differential diagnosis.
Both pharmacists and MCAs base treatment decisions on positive feedback from patients. There is a recognised need among staff for further training to enable them to distinguish between skin problems. Future studies need to explore the outcomes associated with treatments for patients with undiagnosed skin problems.
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