Objective: To quantify rural communities' risks for losing access to local pharmacy services using a newly developed risk-assessment tool. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Minnesota in June through August 2003. Participants: Pharmacy owners and managers in rural communities with populations less than 5,000 residents and only one community pharmacy. Intervention: Self-administered questionnaire completed by study participants. Main Outcome Measures: Each answer was given a score based on the related factor's ability to affect risk of pharmacy closure. Scores were summed to give a comparative risk score with a positive score indicating higher risk; these scores could range from -13.5 to +30.75, depending on responses. Results: From 126 communities outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area with populations of fewer than 5,000 residents and only one community pharmacy, 81 (64.3%) usable responses were received. The calculated risk scores ranged from -7 to +12.3, with mean (± SD) scores of 1.55 ± 4.17. Factors that contributed most to rural pharmacies' risk index were dramatic decreases in community populations within 5 years, poor community support for the pharmacy, owner's intent to sell pharmacy within 2 years, less than $750,000 in annual prescription revenue, perceived erosion of total market share of prescriptions, difficulties in recruiting full-time pharmacist-employees, lack of access to local primary care, and perceived likelihood that local primary care clinics would not be active in 5 years. Approximately 26% of pharmacy owners responding expressed interest in selling their pharmacy within 3 years, and 62% were interested in selling within 10 years. Conclusion: The tool developed for this study allows prospective assessment of risk, which can facilitate a greater awareness by local and regional officials and consumers of the possibility of loss of rural pharmacies, assist in targeting resources to areas most in need, and serve as a bridge to collaborative relationships aimed at ensuring local access to both pharmacy services and the knowledge of a pharmacist.
- Community and ambulatory pharmacy
- Medication access
- Rural pharmacy