Development of the specialist menopause pharmacist (SMP) role within a research framework
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Objective: To determine the potential contribution of a new healthcare practice model, the specialist menopause pharmacist (SMP) role.
Method: Post pilot, the SMP’s remit was proposed as combining clinical practice (service delivery) and research studies, with emphasis on strengthening liaison between the secondary and primary care sectors. Action research, a qualitative research technique, was selected to document role development in the first year. Here the pharmacist- researcher’s focus was a local situation where the effects of a particular change, involving people who were part of the situation, were assessed. The change factor was the introduction of the pharmacist to the multi-disciplinary specialist team. The pharmacist-researcher did not attempt to hold anything constant but observed the changes occurring in a systematic manner. Analysis of on-going collaborative professional activity generated the hypothesis that the role was of use in enhancing patient care. Using triangulation and focusing on the descriptive phrase ‘of use’, it was then possible to study SMP implemented ‘actions’ that would be accepted as being ‘useful’ SMP functions. The aim was to test for reliability and obtain data with greater range and accuracy. The three studies undertaken included a controlled, questionnaire study asking for patients’ views on the pharmacist service, auditing health professionals usage of the pharmacist operated telephone help-line, and assessing the impact of structured on-site training on community pharmacists.
Main outcome measure: Overall impact and achievements over 3 years, against a background where the SMP role continued to develop during the study.
Results: Action research methodology engendered reflective practice, enabling the SMP to be both the service delivery provider (the intervention) and the researcher. This pharmacist practice model is accepted both by patients and health professional colleagues. The remit combines clinical practice with on-going research studies. In the UK setting, the SMP can undertake numerous liaison activities between secondary and primary care sectors to facilitate enhanced delivery of menopause patient care.
Conclusion: Using an action research approach, and combining qualitative and quantitative methods to complement data collection, it was possible to assess the specialist pharmacist role in depth.
KeywordsAction research Health care models Health care service Pharmaceutical care Primary care Research methods Secondary care Specialist pharmacist Triangulation United Kingdom
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