International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 399–409 | Cite as

Review of services provided by pharmacies that promote healthy living

  • David BrownEmail author
  • Jane Portlock
  • Paul Rutter
Review Article


Background The recognition that community pharmacies have the potential to make a greater contribution to promoting public health has led to a new concept, called the Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP). These are designed to meet public health needs through a tiered commissioning framework delivering health and well being services through community pharmacy, tailored to local requirements for tackling health inequalities. Aim To search the literature for quality evidence to support the inclusion of services in the HLP portfolio and suggest areas where more evidence is required. Method A systematic review of the research literature covering the period January 1990–August 2011 inclusive, using MEDLINE, EMBASE, Pharmline, NHS Evidence and the Cochrane databases. On-line searching of the grey literature (e.g. conference proceedings) was also carried out. Standard methods of assessing quality were employed. Results A total of 377 papers were included. Over time, there was a marked increase in frequency of publications reflecting a growing pharmacy interest in the public healthcare agenda; over a third (35 %) of papers appeared in the last three-year study period. The body of research had a wide geographical basis; contributions were as follows: UK (51.5 %), US (20.4 %), Australia/New Zealand (9.8 %), Europe (7.7 %) and Canada (7.2 %). The topics of contraception, cardiovascular disease prevention, diabetes and smoking cessation accounted for 40 % of included papers. The literature supports the introduction of specific community pharmacy services, targeted at customer groups, both with and without pre-existing diseases. Good evidence exists for smoking cessation, cardiovascular disease prevention, hypertension and diabetes. Some good evidence exists for interventions on asthma and heart failure. The evidence supporting weight management, sexual health, osteoporosis detection, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is weak and needs development. Conclusion There is strong evidence for the role of community pharmacy in a range of services, not only aimed at improving general health, but also maintaining the health of those with existing disease. In other areas, the evidence is less strong and further research is required to justify their inclusion in a HLP portfolio.


Community pharmacy Health care delivery Literature review Public health United Kingdom 



The authors wish to thank Professor Claire Anderson of the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham and Professor Alison Blenkinsopp of the School of Pharmacy, University of Bradford for suggestions on search strategy and comments on earlier drafts of this work. We also want to thank Ms Angela Badiani, Principal Pharmacist, Medicines Information, University Hospitals Southampton, for conducting the systematic literature searches.


This research was funded in part by a grant from the UK Department of Health.

Conflicts of interest



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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PortsmouthPortsmouth, HampshireUK
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity CollegeLondonUK
  3. 3.School of PharmacyUniversity of WolverhamptonWest MidlandsUK

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