Survey: Community pharmacists seldom counsel mentally ill patients

December 17, 2012

About 75% of patients with mental illness and their caretakers reported that community pharmacists "seldom or never" assisted them with safety or effectiveness monitoring assistance, according to a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) online survey.

 

About 75% of patients with mental illness and their caretakers reported that community pharmacists "seldom or never" assisted them with safety or effectiveness monitoring assistance, according to a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) online survey.

The survey, which was developed through a collaboration between NAMI and the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists Foundation (CPNPF), found that more than half of the respondents (n=1,031) said a lack of privacy in pharmacies to discuss medication issues was the largest obstacle. There were 670 individuals and 361 caregivers who responded to the online survey at the NAMI website from Oct. 25 through Nov. 5.

"The result is that people come to view pharmacists as disinterested in their actual care-although the perception is not so much the fault of pharmacists as they’re not having sufficient time for questions or discussion," a NAMI press release stated. “Individuals primarily receive their medication at the cash register with little or no interaction with their pharmacist."

Nearly all the respondents-91%-said they are "very comfortable" using community pharmacies, and 83% said they felt respected by their pharmacist, the report stated. However, 43% said they didn't feel that they had a "strong, professional" relationship with their pharmacist.

"The survey suggests areas for action to strengthen the role of community pharmacists as part of treatment teams for mental health problems as well as other medical conditions," said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick, MSW. "Pharmacists can serve as a first line of defense in identifying medication issues to be discussed with a person’s doctor-before any concern turns into an adverse event."

About 2,000 pharmacies in the United States specialize in mental health medications, but that is not enough to support the number of mentally ill patients, the release states.

"This groundbreaking survey reports the observations of those receiving services related to their mental health medications from community pharmacists. The findings identify important opportunities to expand the commitment of the pharmacy community to greater numbers of individuals living with mental illness," said CPNPF President Charles F. Caley, PharmD, BCPP.