International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 152–161 | Cite as

Development of a decision support system for the practice of responsible self-medication

  • Chiara E. da Rocha
  • Felipe A. S. Lessa
  • Daniel O. Venceslau
  • Celso S. Sakuraba
  • Izadora M. C. Barros
  • Divaldo P. de LyraJr.Email author
Research Article


Background Responsible self-medication is an integral part of the health system that consists of community pharmacists counseling patients on treating minor illness using non-prescription medications. Systems for properly managing information can assist disease identification and clinical decision-making. Objective To develop a software program to assist community pharmacists in clinical decision-making regarding selfmedication. Setting The study was conducted in northeastern Brazil. Methods The study was conducted from February 2012 to January 2014. System development included identifying minor illnesses commonly treated by community pharmacists and creating simulations of community pharmacies using a simulated patient methodology. Clinical pharmacists, production engineering students, professors, and a pharmacist researcher comprised the development group. Five meetings were held to develop the software, and the system was completed in December 2013. Main outcome measure Minor illnesses commonly treated by community pharmacists, and simulated patient methodology. Results In the first meeting the final list of topics for inclusion in the algorithm indicated the exact questions to be addressed by the community pharmacist to properly manage the complaint. In the second meeting, the discussions in the focus group indicated consensus among pharmacists as to the medications on the list of Groups and Specified Therapeutic Indications of Brazilian Legislation. In the third meeting were defined the parameters to refer patients to the doctor. In the fourth meeting the algorithm was tested using a simulated patient, to observe whether the question order ensures an effective, efficient, and safe decision process for the patient. In the fifth meeting, the algorithm was tested again using a simulated patient with the flu, and all group members agreed upon its final incarnation after refinements to the situations that determined referral to the doctor. Conclusion The software may contribute to identifying health risk situations (potentially unsafe medications based on clinical history, clinical hazards, and past adverse events) requiring medical treatment.


Brazil Clinical decision-making Pharmacists Pharmacy software Self-medication 



The authors thank all the participating clinical pharmacists for making this research possible as well as the production engineering students who were fundamental for carrying out this research.


This project was sponsored by FAPITEC-SE and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) in the form of grants (Ph.D. and scientific initiation scholarship).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara E. da Rocha
    • 1
    • 2
  • Felipe A. S. Lessa
    • 3
  • Daniel O. Venceslau
    • 3
  • Celso S. Sakuraba
    • 3
  • Izadora M. C. Barros
    • 1
  • Divaldo P. de LyraJr.
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Teaching and Research in Social Pharmacy (LEPFS/UFS)Federal University of SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil
  2. 2.Pharmacy DepartmentFederal University of SergipeLagartoBrazil
  3. 3.Engineering Production DepartmentFederal University of SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil

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