Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) : a case study in two community pharmacies

Latif, Asam (2012) Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) : a case study in two community pharmacies. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The Medicines Use Review and Prescription Intervention (MUR) service was commissioned as part of the 2005 community pharmacy contract for England and Wales. The aim of the MUR service is to improve patients’ knowledge and use of medicines and to reduce avoidable medicines waste. MURs form part of a Government strategy that aims to improve patients’ adherence to medicines in order to optimise health gain and reduce cost associated with unused medicines. MURs are also seen as a ‘concordance review’ and pharmacy’s professional bodies acknowledge the service as a means to further the professional role of community pharmacists. However, it remains uncertain from studies investigating the outcomes of MURs, the extent to which the service is benefitting patients. One significant drawback to previous studies is the lack of in-depth investigation of the MUR consultation and the patients’ perspective of the service.

This thesis provides valuable insights into what occurs during an MUR consultation and investigates the patient’s perspective of the service and that of the pharmacy staff. This work also explores whether the MUR policy aims are being realised in practice and translated into more effective use of medicines. Ten weeks of fieldwork observations were undertaken in two English community pharmacies. One-week placements were made over a 12-month period between November 2008 and October 2009. Observations were made of all pharmacy activities, including fifty-four MUR consultations. Thirty-four patients subsequently agreed to be interviewed about their experience of the MUR. Eight patients were observed to decline the offer of an MUR, of which three patients were interviewed about the reasons why they declined. After the pharmacy observations were completed, five pharmacists and twelve support staff interviews were held to discuss professional perspectives of MURs.

The findings from this study suggest that the MUR service is a modern and developing service but one that remains unestablished. Patient awareness of MURs was poor and nearly all MURs were initiated by the pharmacist; no patients were referred from the GP. Pharmacy staff did not actively seek to recruit patients who may benefit most from an MUR and the majority were invited in ad hoc manner. Patients were given little time to consider whether to take part in an MUR and were insufficiently informed of their purpose or personal value. MURs were framed as a monitoring activity and most patients reported that the MUR did little to improve their knowledge of their medicines and rarely affected their use. They perceived their GP to have the main authority over their medicines. Patients considered that significant medicine-related problems would be best resolved by talking to the GP rather than with the pharmacist during an MUR. In effect, a supplier induced demand for MURs was observed. Nevertheless, all patients reported feeling comfortable speaking to the pharmacist during an MUR and most described the consultation in positive terms. Most patients viewed the pharmacist as a knowledgeable expert and some felt reassured about their medicines following an MUR.

Observations of the MUR consultation revealed pharmacists were subordinate to the ‘technology’ of the MUR form and adhered to its ‘tick-box’ format. Pharmacists used predominantly closed questions which enabled the MUR form to be completed efficiently, but this forestalled wider discussion of the patient’s health and medicines. The MUR service was at odds with the intention to create a patient-centred service. When complex or indeterminate issues were raised, these were often circumvented or the patient referred to the GP. Pharmacists reported in their interviews that they welcomed MURs and the resultant potential to raise their profile with patients. However, they were unclear about what they wanted to advise during an MUR and how patients might gain maximum benefit from the review. They also reported concerns over patient recruitment, organisational pressures to pursue a target number of MURs and difficulties integrating MURs within their existing activities. MURs were pragmatically accommodated alongside existing duties without additional resource. Support staff reported feeling discomfort when they were left to explain to patients and customers why the pharmacist was absent during an MUR and described using various strategies and personal judgements to deal with waiting patients.

This study has important implications for patients, professionals and policy makers. Patients should be aware that the MUR service is funded by the NHS and is available for them to use. More support from GPs is needed to identify patients who may most benefit from an MUR. This study highlights the need for consultation and communication skills training for pharmacists, so they are able to effectively elicit patient beliefs, concerns and preferences about medicines during the MUR. Organisations also need to reconsider the way they motivate pharmacists to undertake MURs to avoid unintended consequences for patient care. Policy makers should reconsider strategies that are based on rationalised policies as a means to improving patient adherence to medicines. Effective services need to be responsive to the patient’s individual circumstance and preference. Further research is needed into MURs in a wider and more diverse range of pharmacy settings in order to explore these issues further.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Boardman, H.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Pharmacy
ID Code:2374
Deposited By:Dr A Latif
Deposited On:17 Oct 2012 16:28
Last Modified:17 Oct 2012 16:28

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