International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 151–158 | Cite as

Counseling patients on correct drug handling in German community pharmacies: experiences and opinions of pharmaceutical staff

  • Pia Madeleine Schumacher
  • Martina Patrizia Neininger
  • Almuth Kaune
  • Thilo BertscheEmail author
Research Article


Background For a safe drug therapy, outpatients have to self-administer their medications correctly. However, these procedures are known as error-prone. In community pharmacies, the pharmaceutical staff has to recognize patients’ counseling needs and to use adequate strategies to prevent possible handling errors. Objective Assessing the experiences and opinions of pharmaceutical staff on counseling patients on practical drug handling. Setting Community pharmacies in a German city and surrounding area. Method Descriptively evaluating a self-administered questionnaire to be completed by members of the pharmaceutical staff involved in patient counseling. Main outcome measures Estimated counseling needs of patients, current counseling strategies and limitations of counseling. Results 520 staff members of 119 pharmacies (59.8%, 199 invited) participated. The majority prioritized counseling on dosage over counseling on practical drug handling. Participants saw a particular need when medication was dispensed for the first time compared to repeated use (all medication types, each p < 0.001). The need and counseling strategy depended on the dosage form with a special focus on practical demonstration in bronchopulmonary (83.9%) and oral liquid formulations (54.3%). As one main limitation, they cited the refusal of patients to accept information on drug handling (34.4%). Conclusion Participants considered drug handling an important counseling topic. However, reduced awareness for handling errors made at repeated use and at administration of certain dosage forms may affect the safety and success of medication therapy. Additionally, patients’ resistance to information may limit the intent on counseling. Still, it is important to verify patients’ abilities to handle their medication as intended.


Community pharmacy Counseling Drug handling Drug safety Germany Patient–provider communication 



We thank Anne Diessler, pharmacy student, for the support in the development and pretest of the self-administered questionnaire as well as for the support in development of the recruiting strategy. Also, we thank André Drechsler, Grit Lux and Barbara Kubainska, pharmacy students, for their support in the recruitment, distribution and recollection process of the questionnaire and the data entry. We thank all participating members of pharmaceutical staff.


The project received third party funding by the Lesmüller Stiftung, Munich, Germany, and the Förderinitiative Pharmazeutische Betreuung, Berlin, Germany.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interests.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pia Madeleine Schumacher
    • 1
  • Martina Patrizia Neininger
    • 1
  • Almuth Kaune
    • 1
  • Thilo Bertsche
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Drug Safety Center and Dept. of Clinical Pharmacy, Leipzig UniversityLeipzigGermany

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