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A communication training for pharmacy staff to improve the conversation about medication switches.

Schackmann, L., Dijk, L. van, Heringa, M., Koster, E. A communication training for pharmacy staff to improve the conversation about medication switches. Patient Education and Counseling: 2023, 109(Suppl. S), p. 116. Meeting abstract

Non-medical medication switches occur frequently and can have a negative impact on patients’ medication use, due to distrust in the new medicine, or fear of new side effects. Pharmacy staff’s communication about these switches, how they deliver the message and how they address patients’ emotions and concerns regarding the switch is crucial. However, pharmacy staff experiences difficulties in communicating about these switches. This study aimed to develop and pilot-test a communication training to improve conversations about medication switches.

Two communication strategies, ‘positive message framing’ (emphasizing positive elements of the message) and the ‘breaking bad news model’ (break the news immediately, give room for and address emotions), were adapted for use in pharmacy encounters. A blended learning training was developed, consisting of an e-learning followed by a half-day live training. The e-learning contained theory on the two communication strategies and reflective exercises for participants on their own conversations. During the live training participants mainly practiced conversations regarding medication switches using role play with a simulated patient (actress). The training was pilot-tested with staff from 15 Dutch pharmacies. Participants’ evaluation of the training (level 1 of the Kirkpatrick Model) was assessed.

Twelve pharmacists and 27 pharmacy technicians from 15 pharmacies were trained. All participants indicated that the training met their expectations. They most valued practicing the conversations, and discussing these role plays with each other and getting feedback, and as such learning from each other. Suggestions for improvement included having exemplary sentences to use in daily practice, portraying examples of a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ conversation and having more time to practice various situations. The training will be adapted according to these suggestions.

The training was well-received by pharmacy staff. Our next step is to investigate the degree to which they apply their learned skills in daily practice.