International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 1014–1022 | Cite as

Exploring the implementation of a medication adherence programme by community pharmacists: a qualitative study

  • Julien Marquis
  • Marie P. Schneider
  • Brenda Spencer
  • Olivier Bugnon
  • Sophie Du PasquierEmail author
Research Article


Background Medication adherence has been identified as an important factor for clinical success. Twenty-four Swiss community pharmacists participated in the implementation of an adherence support programme for patients with hypertension, diabetes mellitus and/or dyslipidemia. The programme combined tailored consultations with patients about medication taking (expected at an average of one intervention per month) and the delivery of each drug in an electronic monitoring system (MEMS6™). Objective To explore pharmacists’ perceptions and experiences with implementation of the medication adherence programme and to clarify why only seven patients were enrolled in total. Setting Community pharmacies in French-speaking Switzerland. Method Individual in-depth interviews were audio-recorded, with 20 of the pharmacists who participated in the adherence programme. These were transcribed verbatim, coded and thematically analysed. Process quality was ensured by using an audit trail detailing the development of codes and themes; furthermore, each step in the coding and analysis was verified by a second, experienced qualitative researcher. Main outcome measure Community pharmacists’ experiences and perceptions of the determining factors influencing the implementation of the adherence programme. Results Four major barriers were identified: (1) poor communication with patients resulting in insufficient promotion of the programme; (2) insufficient collaboration with physicians; (3) difficulty in integrating the programme into pharmacy organisation; and (4) insufficient pharmacist motivation. This was related to the remuneration perceived as insufficient and to the absence of clear strategic thinking about the pharmacist position in the health care system. One major facilitator of the programme’s implementation was pre-existing collaboration with physicians. Conclusion A wide range of barriers was identified. The implementation of medication adherence programmes in Swiss community pharmacies would benefit from an extended training aimed at developing communication and change management skills. Individualised onsite support addressing relevant barriers would also be necessary throughout the implementation process.


Cognitive pharmaceutical services Community pharmacy Interdisciplinary collaboration Implementation Medication adherence Pharmacists Qualitative research Switzerland 



We wish to thank all the pharmacists who granted interviews and/or participated in the NARC study. We also wish to thank Alison Roberts for her contribution to the design of the interview guide.


This study was funded by the Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julien Marquis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marie P. Schneider
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brenda Spencer
    • 3
  • Olivier Bugnon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sophie Du Pasquier
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Community Pharmacy, School of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of Geneva, University of LausanneGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Community Pharmacy, Department of Ambulatory Care and Community MedicineUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Lausanne University HospitalLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.Community Pharmacy, Pharmacie de la Policlinique Médicale UniversitaireLausanneSwitzerland

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