Background Multivitamin supplements are a subset of dietary supplements sold in pharmacies as over-the-counter medicines. Community pharmacists are regarded as responsible professionals and relied on for their safe practice and efficacy. Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the counselling practices of community pharmacists relating to typical use, interactions, contraindications, and side effects of multivitamin supplements using simulated patients. Setting Ninety-seven community pharmacies in Kerman, Iran. Method Two male students acted as simulated patients who role-played a scenario in the community pharmacies in two steps. In step 1, they spontaneously mentioned they were a student and did not eat properly through lack of time and requested a multivitamin supplement. In Step 2, if the pharmacists did not request a drug history, they would explain that they had severe acne and had been taking oral isotretinoin for a month. The counselling practice of the pharmacists was audio recorded. Main outcome measure The number of pharmacists who provided information about multivitamin use and identified isotretinoin–vitamin A interaction. Results Thirteen pharmacists in charge were absent at the time of the purchases. None of the pharmacists provided information about contraindications and side effects of multivitamin products. Twenty pharmacists provided instruction for multivitamin use, and two pharmacists took a drug history. In Step 1, only two pharmacists identified isotretinoin–vitamin A interaction, but in Step 2, this number increased to 15. Conclusion The counselling practice of pharmacists should be improved to promote effective and safe use of multivitamin supplements.
Community pharmacists Iran Multivitamin supplements Pharmacy practice Simulated patients
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The authors thank Ehsan Mehrabi Kermani for editing the English text.
The authors are grateful to the Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran, for providing financial support to conduct this research.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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