KENILWORTH, N.J. -- Prescription drug customers in general are very satisfied with the services provided by pharmacists. Pharmacists also have a strong influence on whether patients are compliant with their medication regimens. Pharmacies in supermarkets, though, are viewed somewhat less favorably than independent or chain drug pharmacies.
d a compliance rate of 93%, followed by a compliance rate of 89% for counseling by the physician alone and 77% for patients not counseled by either.
A strong 70% of patients said that discussing their medication with the pharmacist helped them take it correctly. The rates were highest for women, those 55 years of age and over and patients of independent pharmacies.
Some patients said their discussions with pharmacists helped improve their medical problems. Among patients of supermarket pharmacies, however, only 35% said that pharmacist counseling improved their medical condition. This contrasted with 51% of independent pharmacy patients who said speaking to the pharmacist made a difference, and 39% of chain pharmacy patients.
The Schering report revealed that most patients (78%) are loyal to one pharmacy. Chain drug garnered the most responses as the preferred type of pharmacy, with 39% of responses. Independents followed with 29%. For this question only, the survey grouped together supermarket and department store pharmacies for 11%, a tie with HMO pharmacies. Discount store pharmacies were preferred by 9%.
Where do patients and pharmacists get together to discuss medications? Four-fifths of conversations take place at the counter, 7% at the side of the counter, and just 3% in a designated counseling area. About half of patients (51%) said they would feel more comfortable talking in a separate counseling area.
When asked under what circumstances pharmacists should explain about their prescriptions, just over a third said only if the patient asks (36%), closely followed by only when the pharmacist thinks it is necessary (35%). Only 23% thought counseling should be done every time a prescription is filled.
"Whether at the counter or in a designated location, counseling is not an everyday expectation of patients," observed Jack Robbins, Ph.D., director of Pharmacy Affairs for Schering Laboratories, who analyzed the study results.
Pharmacists were more likely than physicians to advise patients on side effects of medications (62% compared with 52%), possible interactions with other medications (53% versus 41%) and avoiding certain foods or alcohol while taking medication (61% v. 43%).
Physicians, however, scored higher on discussing dosage (91% to 75%), frequency of dosage (91% to 76%) and duration of therapy (85% to 67%).
Four-fifths of patients said they were "extremely satisfied" with the oral or written medication instructions provided by pharmacists.
Nearly two-thirds of patients (63%) said the pharmacist's oral instructions were clear and complete. More than half (53%) said that the pharmacist, while usually busy, will spend as much time as needed to discuss the prescription. Nearly half (47%) strongly agreed that pharmacists really care about them and how they feel.
However, only two out of five patients (42%) recalled actually speaking to the pharmacist. Despite OBRA's targeting of Medicaid recipients, only a third recalled speaking to the pharmacist.
A summary booklet on Schering Report XVI is available by writing: Pharmacy Affairs Department, Schering Laboratories, Kenilworth, N.J. 07033.