Word of mouth best way to spread pharmacy message

Local pharmacies can be an effective first port of call for minor health concerns, but personal recommendation rather than poster or media campaigns is the best way to promote this, says community health expert Professor Janet Krska.

Commenting on a new NHS England campaign to encourage more people to go to pharmacies rather than GPs or A&E, the University’s Professor Krska says her research suggests that word of mouth recommendation from medical staff, pharmacy customers and family or friends are the best ways to promote pharmacy services.

She comments: ‘Lots of research looking at the many different services that pharmacies offer shows that people have very positive experiences of getting help from a local pharmacy, for anything from minor ailments to emergency contraception.

‘But our studies show very clearly that word of mouth is the best way to promote what pharmacy teams can do. Staff in medical practices and A and E need to recommend pharmacy services, pharmacy staff need to tell their satisfied customers to let others know and people need to share their positive experiences with their friends and families.

‘The public currently has limited awareness of what’s available in pharmacies. One of our surveys, involving 1000 people, found that only 18% knew they could have a review of all their medicines in a pharmacy and 8% that they could get advice on starting a new medicine.

‘Another survey, of over 900 people, found that few had experienced services such as having their blood pressure measured, getting support with stopping smoking or having an NHS Health Check in a pharmacy.’

Janet Krska is Professor of Clinical and Professional Practice at the Medway School of Pharmacy, which is a collaboration between the University of Kent and the University of Greenwich. Her research includes provision of community pharmacy services.