Patient assessment for minor illness in Maltese community pharmacies: A qualitative interview study of the pharmacists’ and patients’ acceptability

  • Daniel Corso

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


Background: Shifting away from a product-oriented role to a pharmaceutical and patient-centred care model, community pharmacists are now practising new roles involving more direct patient care. These expanded roles are making patient assessments evermore relevant to community pharmacies, especially for minor illnesses care. From previous studies, a lack of motivation amongst pharmacists was noted as one of the barriers to further integrating patient assessments into practice, which raises questions about the acceptability of such assessments. This study aims to assess the pharmacists' and patients' acceptability of patient assessments when used for the assessment and management of minor illness in Maltese community pharmacies.

Methodology: A pragmatic qualitative study using in-depth telephone interviews with thirteen community pharmacists and thirteen patients, guided by Sekhon’s (2017) Theoretical Framework of Acceptability. Data from the interviews was analysed using the ‘Six phases of Reflective Thematic Analysis’ approach described by Braun and Clarke (2019).

Results: Five main themes that determined the acceptability of patient assessments for minor illness were generated from the interview data: (1) understanding of patient assessments, (2) achieving its purpose, (3) the pharmacist-patient relationship, (4) unfavourable pharmacy setting, and (5) professional recognition. Six sub-themes were also generated. Several factors that positively contributed to the acceptability of patient assessments were identified from these themes. These included strong pharmacist-patient relationships, pharmacists’ experience, multidisciplinary approaches, and perceptions that patient assessments allow for more informed decisions. Determinants that decreased the acceptability were also identified, which included a lack of privacy, inadequate training and supporting policies, assessment for minor illness involving certain parts of the body (e.g. the eyes), and business-oriented views of community pharmacies. Recommendations for improving the acceptability of minor illness assessments are made in relation to professional practice and health policies. In addition, the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability was examined in terms of its potential use in pharmacy services and suggestions for its future development were made.

Conclusion: Patient assessments for minor illnesses can be an acceptable role of community pharmacists because of the existing foundations of strong pharmacist-patient relationships, skills and knowledge of pharmacists, and perceptions that they will improve outcomes for patients. However, there needs to be additional training and resources for pharmacists, and further considerations on views that patient assessments for some minor illnesses are less acceptable.
Date of Award11 Oct 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJo Cranwell (Supervisor), Corinne Bowman (Supervisor) & Sarah Chapman (Supervisor)


  • pharmacist
  • minor illness
  • patient assessments
  • community pharmacy

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