Walking a line between health care and sales: The role of the medicines counter assistant

J Banks, A Shaw, Marjorie C Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aims: To investigate the role of the medicines counter assistant in the sale of over-the-counter medicines. Design: Qualitative study using two methods of data collection: (1) non-participant observation and (2) semi-structured interviews. Subjects and setting: Medicines counter assistants and customers purchasing OTC medicines in a number of community pharmacies in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Outcome measures: (a) How counter assistants manage the retail and clinical dimensions of their role, (b) how counter assistants use pharmacy protocols and the extent to which they use their own judgement when making OTC sales, (c) how counter assistants respond to customers who are unwilling or unable to provide full information. Results: The data showed that counter assistants successfully perform a primary care function. They respond to requests for advice, they recommend OTC and GSL medicines and they perform a risk mediation service for customers requesting products. However, data also showed that dialogue between customers and counter assistants can be problematic. Conclusion: The research shows that the counter assistant is an effective facilitator in the supply of OTC medicines and is generally recognised as such by customers. However, the research also highlighted problems with the use of pharmacy protocols. We suggest that the protocol may be too rigid a tool to facilitate effective communication between customers and pharmacy staff.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-589
Number of pages4
JournalPharmaceutical Journal
Volume274
Issue number7349
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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