Introduction

Community pharmacists are increasingly recognized for their critical role in healthcare delivery. They do more than just dispense medications; they offer patient education, medication management services, and support for public health initiatives. In Lebanon, a recent study explored the untapped potential for these professionals to engage in practice-based research within their community settings. Today, we delve into the findings of this cross-sectional study, assessing their interest, knowledge, barriers, and existing practices regarding research. The study highlights the potential for growth and the challenges that need addressing if community pharmacists are to contribute more significantly to the healthcare research landscape.

The Study

The study in discussion, titled “Lebanese community-based pharmacists’ interest, practice, knowledge, and barriers towards pharmacy practice research: A cross-sectional study,” was published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal (SPJ) in May 2019 (DOI: 10.1016/j.jsps.2019.02.002). It aimed to evaluate the current state of pharmacy practice research among Lebanese community-based pharmacists. A random proportionate sample of community pharmacies across Lebanon was surveyed between January and May 2017. The developed questionnaire was a result of past research and consultations with active research pharmacists.

Findings

The study’s results, derived from 399 enrolled pharmacists, are telling. A vast majority, 72%, recognized the importance of research in their field, with 68.5% expressing interest in participating in research activities. However, the study unveiled a gap between pharmacists’ self-declared knowledge and their actual understanding of research terms – a discrepancy that was statistically significant.

Barriers to Engagement

The pharmacists reported several barriers to engaging in research:
1. 90.9% cited lack of time during work hours.
2. 73.7% pointed to inadequate pharmacy staff.
3. 68.9% were constrained by financial resources.
4. 64.8% mentioned patients’ lack of education and resistance.
5. 63.8% lacked organizational support.

Factors Influencing Research Interest

The study identified several factors that correlated with higher research interest, such as:
1. Younger age (aOR = 0.92)
2. More years of experience (aOR = 1.06)
3. Previous involvement in research (aOR = 3.17)

Similarly, having studied in Lebanon (aOR = 3.63), prior research courses (aOR = 11.12), and interest in research (aOR = 2.74) were associated with past participation in research projects.

Discussion

Lebanese community pharmacists have displayed a readiness and willingness to participate in research, but there is a prevalent knowledge gap and numerous barriers that prevent them from actively engaging in it.

The study highlights the need for targeted education and training to bolster pharmacists’ research capabilities. Additionally, the pharmaceutical sector must address the structural barriers that pharmacists face, such as time constraints and lack of financial and institutional support.

With the appropriate measures, pharmacists could play a crucial role in local research initiatives, contributing to a broader healthcare context that heavily relies on evidence-based practice. Moreover, their unique position within the community offers an unparalleled opportunity to collect real-world data that could lead to improved health outcomes.

Implications for the Future

This study shines a light on what could be a pivotal shift in the practice of pharmacy within Lebanon and potentially, the region. Advancing the research literacy and capabilities of community pharmacists would allow them to contribute meaningfully to medical knowledge and patient care. Stakeholders, including educational institutions, professional organizations, and healthcare policymakers, must come together to create a conducive environment for this transformation.

References

1. Zeidan, R.K., Hallit, S., Zeenny, R.M., & Salameh, P. (2019). Lebanese community-based pharmacists’ interest, practice, knowledge, and barriers towards pharmacy practice research: A cross-sectional study. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 27(4), 550-557. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsps.2019.02.002
2. Herbert, J., Laliberte, M.C., et al. (2013). The willingness of community pharmacists to participate in a practice-based research network. Can Pharm J (Ott), 146(1):47-54. DOI: 10.1177/1715163512475137
3. O’Loughlin, J., Masson, P., et al. (1999). The role of community pharmacists in health education and disease prevention: a survey of their interests and needs in relation to cardiovascular disease. Prev Med, 28(3), 324-331. DOI: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0424
4. International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). (2000). Statement of Policy: Good Pharmacy Education and Practice. Retrieved from http://www.fip.org
5. Wiedenmayer, K., Summers, R.S., et al. (2006). Developing pharmacy practice: a focus on patient care: handbook. Retrieved from World Health Organization website: https://www.who.int

Keywords

1. Lebanese Community Pharmacists
2. Pharmacy Practice Research
3. Research Engagement Barriers
4. Pharmacists Research Training
5. Lebanon Healthcare Research