Closing the knowledge gap in Malaysian pharmacists: A virtual Allergic Rhinitis Boot Camp initiative
Background: In primary care, general practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists are at the frontline to identify, classify and manage patients suffering from allergic rhinitis (AR). The Allergic Rhinitis and its impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines aid clinicians in disease management by providing evidence-based recommendations. A recently published ASEAN primary care survey demonstrated that the awareness of ARIA guidelines was high among GPs but notably lower in pharmacists. Hence, this study seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of a Boot Camp education initiative in bridging the unmet needs in pharmacist awareness and education.
Methods: The boot camp was organised as a virtual event. The participants answered the same questionnaire before (pre-assessment) and immediately after (post-assessment) the boot camp session. Statistical analysis was performed on the data paired between the pre- and post- assessments using SPSS v. 25.0 software.
Results: The boot camp survey results showed that second-generation oral antihistamines and allergen avoidance are the most preferred options for AR treatment in pharmacy practice, irrespective of the disease severity. In both pre- and post-assessments, efficacy was ranked as the most important factor considered for choosing an antihistamine and which affects patient adherence. With the boot camp initiative, there was a statistically significant increase in awareness about the patient profiling tool (from 31.6% to 88.2%) and ARIA guidelines (from 40.4% to 91.2%) among the pharmacists (p<0.05). The proportion of pharmacists who were able to identify, classify and refer AR patients was significantly increased in post-assessment (p<0.05). Post the boot camp, among the proportion of pharmacists (91.2%) who were already aware of ARIA, a high percentage of them further agreed that ARIA guidelines were useful in identifying and treating patients with AR, as well as classifying AR, respectively (97.6%, 95.2%, and 93.5%).
Conclusions: Based on improvements in knowledge and understanding of disease management post assessment, the Allergic Rhinitis Boot Camp initiative is effective and relevant to pharmacy practice. Outreach programs like this reiterate the emphasis on patient compliance and importance of utilizing ARIA guidelines in pharmacy practice that facilitates better management of AR in primary care.
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