Background. Community pharmacists have increasing involvement in the self-management of minor illness as a result of the availability of a wider range of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. We undertook a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of educational strategies to implement evidence-based guidelines for the sale of OTC anti-fungals in the community pharmacy setting. Objective. The aim of the study was to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of two guideline dissemination strategies in community pharmacy settings. Methods. A 2 × 2 factorial, cluster RCT was conducted with 60 community pharmacies in the Grampian region of Scotland. The interventions included dissemination of an evidence-based guideline for OTC management of vulvovaginal candidiasis (thrush) by postal dissemination (control), educational outreach visit or attendance at a continuing professional education session. Pre- and post-intervention simulated patient visits were made to participating pharmacies. The simulated patients completed assessment forms following each visit. The primary outcome was the appropriateness (based upon the guidelines) of sale or no sale of OTC anti-fungals. Results. There were no significant differences in the proportion of appropriate outcomes following educational outreach [odds ratio (OR) = 1.1; 95% confidence interval (Cl) 0.52 to 2.45] or continuing professional education (OR = 0.88; 95% Cl 0.41 to 1.91). Conclusions. Neither strategy was effective in improving the appropriateness of OTC management of vulvovaginal candidiasis by community pharmacy staff. Further research is needed to identify barriers to guideline implementation and evidence-based practice in this setting.
- community pharmacy services
- non-prescription drugs
- pharmacy continuing education
- randomized controlled trial