largest cause of mortality in Australia is Cardiovascular diseases including heart
disease2. It accounts for 37% of all deaths due to lifestyle factors, such as high blood pressure, high
cholesterol, low fruit and vegetable intake, low physical activity, smoking and
alcohol consumption2. Therefore, a national survey was carried out to assess the
satisfaction of service at community pharmacies, confidence in the ability of
the pharmacist to screen for risk factors and provide advice on lifestyle
changes and medications1. This was done by 15-minute telephone interviews to 505
households within the 30-90-year-old age category1.
the Australian public were asked about their perception on pharmacist screening
capabilities, the results showed that 52% of respondents either agreed or
strongly agreed with pharmacists being capable to provide screening or testing
for raised blood pressure, a total of 50% for diabetes and 37% for cholesterol1. 75% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with
pharmacists being capable to provide advice on lifestyle changes such as weight
loss, smoking and alcohol intake1. This is expected considering part of a pharmacist’s job
role is to provide advice and counselling points.
the Australian public were asked where they would prefer to have blood pressure
screening or testing, 97% would prefer to have the service conducted by their
doctor whereas, 58% would prefer to have the service conducted at the pharmacy1. When the Australian public were asked where they would
prefer to have diabetes screening, a similar response was obtained with 59% having
the service conducted at the pharmacy1. When asked about cholesterol screening, 51% would have the
service conducted at the pharmacy1.
regards with being diagnosed with heart disease, 98% would use the diagnostic
service provided by a doctor whereas only 32% would use the service provided by
a pharmacist1. This is expected as it is the primary job role of doctors.
For this reason, some members of the public may feel more trust towards the
doctor instead of a pharmacist when dealing with such a life-threatening
illness. This was reflected in the next question which was asked in the
interview regarding pharmacists’ capability in diagnosing heart disease. Only
9% agree that pharmacists are capable to diagnose heart disease1. On the other hand, 89% agreed that pharmacists are their
primary source when seeking for advice on taking medicines properly1.
in regard to lifestyle counselling, small percentages of respondents have asked
pharmacists for advice on weight control, exercise and smoking cessation due to
their preferred health provider being doctors1.
In conclusion, a
fairly large portion of the respondents agreed that pharmacists are capable to
provide screening services for blood pressure monitoring, diabetes and
cholesterol1. However, the majority of the public would
still prefer to get the screening services and heart disease diagnosis
conducted at the doctors rather than at the pharmacy1. Therefore, the public needs to be educated
more on the services available at their local pharmacies and the capabilities
of the pharmacists in order to increase the use of these screening services at
the pharmacies and in turn encouraging community pharmacists to be more
involved in preventing or reducing the risk of heart disease1.