Pharmacy undervalued for musculoskeletal help

Man rubs sore shoulder

Consumers want better information to help manage muscle, bone and joint conditions, but many aren’t aware of the value that pharmacy can provide, new research shows.

MOVE muscle, bone & joint health (the new voice of Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria) have recently released a landmark review, ‘Consumers’ perceived needs of health information, health services and other non-medical services: A systematic scoping review’, which was undertaken by Anita Wluka and colleagues from Monash University.

The group says that very few studies over the last 15 years have specifically examined the role of pharmacy for people living with muscle, bone and joint conditions, which it says is “disappointing” given the vital role community pharmacy plays in managing these and other chronic diseases.

Despite the lack of specific studies, the report still compiles consumers’ preferences for providers, businesses and support services that can assist pharmacy to provide a better service.

Overall, the review reinforces that consumers prefer providers who take a thorough, holistic approach to consumers’ health care, have good communication skills, and allow consumers to take an active role in their own management, and to do this in an empathetic and understanding fashion.

The review also found that healthcare providers need to provide a non-judgemental and open forum for consumers to discuss their use of, and preferences for, complementary and alternative medicines. A number of studies suggested that consumers do not disclose their use of complementary medicines to their physicians.

Patients want options – they are willing to try new things, and often feel corralled by general practitioners and specialists, MOVE says.

Taking the time to explore options in the context of consumers’ lives is valued by people living with muscle, bone and joint conditions. 

Detailed findings directly relevant to pharmacy were drawn from a number of studies that identified consumers’ preference for information. For example:

  • Iverson found that physicians and pharmacists were perceived as credible sources of information about osteoporosis, but some consumers thought that doctors did not have enough time for explanations; and
  • Manias found that people with osteoarthritis felt more comfortable requesting drug information from pharmacists because they listened to consumer concerns.

MOVE muscle, bone & joint health general manager Ben Harris says that the systematic review is a great resource for pharmacy.

“The review provides a reliable summary about consumers’ perceived needs related to musculoskeletal healthcare and where the gaps are.

“The report also shows that patients trust and value community pharmacy.”



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