International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 237–245 | Cite as

How do pharmacists respond to complaints of acute insomnia? A simulated patient study

  • Carly Kippist
  • Keith Wong
  • Delwyn Bartlett
  • Bandana SainiEmail author
Research Article


Objective It is known that many people with insomnia choose to self medicate and present at community pharmacies, particularly in cases of acute insomnia. The objective of this study is to investigate how community pharmacists respond to complaints of acute insomnia from people who seek self treatment and determine the factors affecting this response. Setting Community pharmacies in New South Wales, Australia. Method A simulated patient study was conducted in 100 randomly selected pharmacies located in Newcastle and Sydney, Australia. A standardized scenario of acute sleep onset insomnia and a scoring system was used in each pharmacy. Main outcome measures Main outcome measures included supply/non supply of an over the counter sleep aid to the simulated patient, and scores for pharmacists for skills in eliciting information prior to supply of medication (Pre Supply Score), counseling about medication (Supply Score), or about sleep (Sleep Score). Results Of the 100 pharmacies, upon simulated patient presentation, 96% supplied a product, the remaining 4% referred to a physician. Non-pharmacological advice was provided in 42%. Pharmacists scored highly on advice provided with supply of a medication (Supply scores/4, 3.1 ± 0.9), but lower on skills in eliciting information prior to supply (Pre-supply score/8, 3.6 ± 1.9) and sleep related counselling (Sleep Score/9, 2.1 ± 1.7). Lower estimated pharmacist age, being in a chain type pharmacy, and having a visible symbol of quality accreditation were found to significantly improve (P < 0.05 the Sleep Score outcome. Lower estimated pharmacist age as also significantly associated with higher Supply Score (P < 0.05); whilst both lower estimated age an visible quality assurance signage were associated with higher Pre-Supply scores (P < 0.05). Conclusion The results of this study suggest that many pharmacists are responding appropriately to complaints of sleeplessness in terms of eliciting insomnia type and counseling about medicines use. However more education for pharmacists would help to further promote good sleep health, and address behaviors including reliance on medicines taking that can progressively worsen insomnia.


Australia Counseling Insomnia Non-prescription medicines Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines Simulated patient 



The author would like to acknowledge Penelope Redman, Grace Shoukry and Kaye Kippist for their assistance in conducting data collection.


None declared. The project reported in this paper did not receive any financial assistance from any sources; and was conducted as part of a BPharmacy final year undergraduate honors project.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carly Kippist
    • 1
  • Keith Wong
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Delwyn Bartlett
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bandana Saini
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Woolcock Institute of Medical ResearchUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Respiratory and Sleep MedicineRoyal Prince Alfred HospitalSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Integrated Research into the Understanding of Sleep, NHMRC funded Centre of Clinical and Research ExcellenceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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