Category: Professional Posters
Purpose: Patient counseling is a fundamental element of pharmaceutical care. Available evidence suggests variable quality of counseling services delivered by pharmacists and unsatisfactory pharmacists’ confidence related to patient counseling and communication skills. Little is known about such practice in Qatar.
The aim of this study is to Assess pharmacists’ self-perceived counseling and communication competencies and explore gaps between such competencies and their application in practice.
Information regarding previous training and/or education on counseling and communication skills and relevant areas of interest for future continuing professional development (CPD) programs were also explored.
Methods: A single-center cross-sectional survey. An electronic survey distributed via e-mail was designed based on guidelines of good pharmacy practice in patient counselling. Respondents were requested to rank self-perceived competency and application of elements of proper counseling skills in daily practice on a scale from 1(Not competent; never applied) to 5 (strongly competent; always applied). Barriers to application, previous education/ training in counseling and communication skills and professional development needs to improve such skills were also assessed.
Results: A survey invitation was sent to over 70 pharmacists with 67% response rate. The majority of respondents (82.6%) had more than 5 years experience . Most pharmacists (67.4%) received structured training in patient counseling and communication skills, which was rated as very useful by 48.7% of respondents. However, only 35.6% pursued professional development related to patient counselling.
Overall, pharmacists reported high self-perceived competency in patient counseling skills, which was reflected in high reported application rates.
The lowest rates on both competency and application were related to identifying need for referral to physicians (23.26; 32.14% respectively) and self-introduction at the beginning of a counseling session (22.73%, 38.71%).
When compared to competency, application was lower with regards to explaining purpose of counseling (81.8% vs. 66.7) and describing instructions for missed doses (82.2% vs. 62.1). Most common barriers to proper counseling were high workload/limited time (84.8%) and language barriers (69.6%). Most respondents (54.4%) believed that they need further training on patient counselling and communication. Training on handling difficult patients (78.3%); using effective communication skills in building patient rapport (71.7%) and dealing with health illiteracy and language barriers (65.2%) were highly demanded skills to improve counseling practice.
Conclusion: Pharmacists in Qatar showed high self-reported competency and application of patient counseling skills. Further training especially in communication skills is needed. Findings of this survey will serve as the basis of a future related professional development program to enhance these skills and optimize patient care.