Not surprisingly, some in the profession may have felt a little miffed that the critique didn’t acknowledge that good work is being done.
Thanks to Dr Simon Bell, a pharmacist with connections to the University of Kuopio in Finland and the University of Sydney, for providing this report of a recent project in Sydney aiming to improve quality of medicine use for people with mental illness.
“Medicines are among the most common treatments for mental illness. However, people with mental illness often report their dissatisfaction with information about medicines. In addition to providing benefit, many of the medicines used to treatment mental illness can cause adverse drug reactions.
In an initiative conducted by researchers from The University of Sydney, trained pharmacists conducted interviews (30–45 minutes each) with clients of community mental health teams.
The purpose of the pharmacists’ interviews was to identify actual and potential problems that clients may be experiencing with their medicines.
The pharmacists then participated in team discussions with members of the community mental health teams and made recommendations about possible strategies to optimise medicines use.
The initiative was evaluated by a 4-member expert panel comprising a psychiatrist, general practitioner, specialist psychiatric pharmacist and a medicines review pharmacist.
Overall the panel believed that participation of the pharmacist had a positive clinical impact for 77% of clients who received the service. The model was also well received by the community mental health team staff (reference available here, pay to see article).
The initiative demonstrated a model whereby appropriately trained pharmacists can contribute to improving the use of medicines.”
It seems to Croakey, however, that this study raises at least as many questions as it answers:
• If the treatment of mental illness could be improved by community mental health teams working more closely with pharmacists, then how widely is this happening?
• If it’s not widespread (as I suspect), then why not? What are the barriers, and how might current models of practice need to be changed to enable such collaboration?
• Is there anything that individual patients and their families, carers and clinicians can do to obtain this type of service?
If Croakey readers have any constructive thoughts on these issues, please let me know. I’m happy to put up more posts on this issue.