Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 67–72 | Cite as

The quality of self-care counselling by pharmacy practitioners, supported by IT-based clinical guidelines

  • Tommy WesterlundEmail author
  • Inga-Lisa Andersson
  • Bertil Marklund
Original Paper



The primary objective of the study was to assess the quality of self-care counselling from pharmacy practitioners, supported by national clinical guidelines. The research questions addressed (1) the distribution of symptoms among customers in need of self-care counselling, (2) the quality of the self-care advice provided by pharmacy practitioners, (3) the degree of customer compliance with appropriate pharmacy advice versus the extent of symptom relief, (4) and versus a subsequent medical care visit, and (5) which resource the customers would have turned to in the first place for their ailments, had the pharmacy practitioner not been available.


Three large community pharmacies with non-prescription self-selection departments in central Sweden.


Ten pharmacy practitioners counselled all customers ≥18 years old, with whom a dialogue was initiated on advice or products for self-care. The counselling was based on national clinical guidelines for self-care advice in the form of a software decision support program. The data collection consisted of documentation of background customer information, independent assessments of the quality of the advice provided and of telephone follow-ups.


Of all documented symptoms (n = 250), the most common were allergy (26.4%), musculoskeletal symptoms (8.4%) and dyspepsia (7.2%). Independent assessments of the documentation by a physician and a pharmacist found that self-care advice was appropriate to give 97.6% of the customers and that the advice provided was correct in 88.4% of the cases. In total, 217 cases (86.8%) were fully approved by both the physician and the pharmacist. Among the 182 customers who claimed that they complied completely with appropriate advice provided, 135 (74.2%) experienced a great improvement in symptoms. Among the 21 who had only partly followed the advice, six (28.6%) reported the same level of improvement (p < 0.001). If the pharmacy practitioner had not been available, 56.8% of the customers would have turned to medical care in the first instance.


The study demonstrates the high quality of pharmacy practitioners’ self-care counselling supported by IT-based national clinical guidelines, including a favourable impact on customers’ ailments. Furthermore, it reveals that pharmacy practitioners greatly relieve the pressure on the health-care system, resulting in reduced costs to society.


Clinical guidelines Counselling Non-prescription drugs Outcomes Pharmacy practitioner Quality Self-care Sweden 



We would like to thank the two additional members of the project group, Leif V Eriksson and Ann Fäldt, as well as Elin Brandsjö, Gunvi Gärdlund, Leif Nilsson, Majvor Ström and Dr. Carl-Eric Thors, for important contributions to the study. We would also like to thank the committed pharmacy practitioners who made this study possible and the National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies (Apoteket AB) for financing the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tommy Westerlund
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Inga-Lisa Andersson
    • 3
  • Bertil Marklund
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Research and DevelopmentApoteket ABHelsingborg and StockholmSweden
  2. 2.Social Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community MedicineGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Apoteket ABStockholmSweden
  4. 4.Research and DevelopmentHalland County CouncilFalkenbergSweden
  5. 5.Primary Health Care, Department of Public Health and Community MedicineGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden

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