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Pill dispenser.

Community pharmacists’ competencies for providing pharmaceutical care for patients with Alzheimer’s is deficient in rural and lower income areas of the US

As older populations continue to grow in the United States and other developed countries, need for competent, knowledgeable health care professionals increases, especially for diseases that predominantly affect older adults like Alzheimer disease and dementia. While medical and health researchers and educators are working to understand issues of competencies, quality of care, and health outcomes for older adults, little is known about how medical and non-medical factors interact to influence the care process when a pharmacist provides care to an individual.

In his dissertation, Paul Henkel, B.Sc., M.Soc.Sc. examines community pharmacists’ knowledge and competencies for providing pharmaceutical care for patients with Alzheimer disease or other dementia and their caregivers in different regions of the United States.

In a three-phase study including nine states across the U.S., this dissertation considers pharmacists’ models of competence and care provision as well as broader societal factors that are influential for health, broadly known as social determinants of health.

The result is a new, integrated theoretical model designed to help pharmacists and other health professionals better understand how diverse factors and local circumstances can directly or indirectly influence both the patient and the health professional; and how these influences contribute to the success of each interaction between the pharmacist with the patient.

By means of case studies, results show that there are deficits in pharmacists’ knowledge in all geographical areas studied. Also evident is that many pharmacists are not using required continuing pharmacy education to address knowledge deficits. Moreover, pharmacists are generally not utilizing evidence-based sources to better understand their communities and needs of the local populations served. All of these deficits are more pronounced in rural areas and in lower income areas. It unveils a landscape of variation of the pharmacists’ competence, attitudes to continuing pharmacy education, and community-based information utilization, something that this new, integrated theoretical model can help address, hopefully to improve quality of interaction between pharmacist and patient, enabling pharmacists to better help individuals, through pharmaceutical care, to better improve their health-related quality of life.

The doctoral dissertation of Paul Henkel, B.Sc., M.Soc.Sc. entitled Community pharmacists’ competence in the health care landscape: The social ecology of pharmaceutical care for older adults will be examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The opponent will be Docent Venla Bernelius from the University of Helsinki and the custos will be Docent Eric Delmelle of the University of Eastern Finland. The public examination will be held in English online on 26 February 2021 starting at 14:00.