Simons, G, Ismail, N, Sandhu, K, Mallen, CD ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2677-1028, Stack, RJ, Pontefract, S, Raza, K and Falahee, M (2022) The potential role of community pharmacy staff in reducing patient delay in consulting with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: a qualitative study. BMC Rheumatology, 6 (1). 50 - ?.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory arthritis which can cause joint damage and reduced quality of life. Early treatment of RA within 3 months of symptom onset is associated with improved clinical outcomes. However, this window of opportunity is often missed. One important contributing factor is patients with symptoms of RA delaying consulting their general practitioner (GP). Previous research indicates that patients with inflammatory arthritis are likely to visit pharmacies for advice before consulting their GP. Therefore, pharmacists are well positioned to identify patients with symptoms of early inflammatory arthritis and signpost them appropriately. This research examines community pharmacy staff's knowledge, perceptions, and approaches to management of patients presenting with symptoms of RA in order to identify training needs and other opportunities for intervention to enhance the role of pharmacy staff in the pathway to care. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 community pharmacy staff in the West Midlands (UK), during a 12-month period (2017-2018). The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis facilitated by NVivo 12. RESULTS: There was considerable variation in knowledge and perceptions of RA and the need for early treatment amongst pharmacists and other pharmacy staff. The potential role of pharmacists and other pharmacy staff in reducing delay in help-seeking was also discussed. Four themes emerged from thematic analysis: (1) Variations in perceptions and knowledge about RA. (2) The role of the pharmacy in increasing public awareness about RA. (3) The role of the pharmacy staff in facilitating access to the GP. (4) Practical considerations for pharmacy-based interventions. CONCLUSION: Variability in knowledge and perceptions of RA amongst pharmacists, and amongst other pharmacy staff will affect effective signposting of suspected RA cases. This study identifies opportunities for enhanced training of community pharmacists and other pharmacy staff in relation to inflammatory arthritis as well as other pharmacy-based interventions, such as public awareness campaigns about RA and other musculoskeletal conditions. Together with existing referral services and other pharmacy-based initiatives this could result in enhanced signposting to GP consultation or other appropriate NHS services for inflammatory symptoms and reduced treatment delay.

Item Type: Article
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Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC925 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology > Physical medicine. Physical therapy. Including massage, exercise, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, phototherapy, radiotherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
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Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2022 12:24
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2022 12:24
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/11372

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