To elicit the thought process or mental model that community pharmacists use when making recommendations on over-the-counter (OTC) medications to older adults and to elicit the current practices of community pharmacists in providing information, advice, and counseling to older adults about potentially inappropriate OTC medications.
Three separate focus groups with pharmacists were conducted with 5 to 8 pharmacists per group. A vignette about an elderly woman seeking an OTC sleep aid was used to elicit information that pharmacists seek to establish when making a recommendation. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for themes using the initial and focused coding methods of grounded theory.
Community pharmacists’ mental models were characterized by 2 similarities: a similarity in what community pharmacists seek to establish about patients and a similarity in when community pharmacists seek to establish it–the sequence in which they try to learn key details about patients. It was identified that pharmacists gather specific information about the patient’s medication profile, health conditions, characteristics of the problem, and past treatments in order to make a recommendation. Community pharmacists recommended behavioral modifications and seeing their physician prior to recommending an OTC sleep aid, primarily due to medication safety concerns.
Pharmacists can play a key role in assisting older adults to select and use OTC medications.
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