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Is offering comprehensive travel health advice and assessment a future practice opportunity for pharmacists?

Australian pharmacies could be looking to offer expanded travel health services as a future practice opportunity, researchers believe.

A survey of 255 Australian pharmacists revealed that 68% currently provided travel advice in their pharmacy, however most did it only occasionally (less than two travellers per week).

The study authors from James Cook University, Townsville, said the level of travel advice being offered by pharmacies in Australia, primarily opportunistic support to patients who do not seek advice elsewhere and referrals for vaccinations, is much less than is offered in pharmacies in some other countries.

The survey did reveal strong levels of enthusiasm to do more in the area, the academics said.

“There is consensus that expanding current practices from simple reactive services responding to travel-related enquiries to comprehensive pre-travel health risk assessments is an opportunity for future practice.”

Restrictions on pharmacist vaccination services, lack of time and inadequate staffing levels were listed by the survey respondents as factors inhibiting more comprehensive services. Almost half of the respondents indicated that they wanted more training in the travel health field, but there were limited options available or known to them. 

“Currently there are no pharmacist-specific, accredited travel health training programs available for pharmacists in Australia. Therefore, this is an ideal opportunity for an Australian pharmacy professional body to work collaboratively with a peak travel body…. in order to develop a pharmacist-specific training program,” the authors said.

“Overcoming barriers of workload, time and the need for training will bring the Australian pharmacists into line with international practice and provide better outcomes for Australians travelling overseas,” the authors concluded.

The study was published in the journal Pharmacy.

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