Use of focus groups as a tool to enhance a pharmaceutical care practice

Heather D. Bislew, Todd D. Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: To demonstrate the utility of the focus group as a tool for pharmacists to use to determine the perceived drug-related needs of patients and prescribers and to use the information collected from focus groups to create a practice enhancement plan. Design: Focus groups consisting of patients, prescribers, and pharmacists were asked a series of questions exploring potential drugrelated needs and their views regarding who should take responsibility for addressing these needs. The information was synthesized to reveal items of consistency and disparity among groups, and the findings were used to create a plan for a developing pharmaceutical care practice. Setting: Grocery store chain pharmacy in a suburban metropolitan area. Patients and Other Participants: Pharmacy patients, nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PA)s, and pharmacists. Results: Data describing the process of focus group application in a community pharmacy setting and information relevant to enhancement of a specific practice were collected. Total time required to gather information was approximately 60 hours. Focus groups were held with NPs/ PAs and patients; pharmacists were interviewed. Patients' self-described drug-related needs included education, ensuring they receive the right medication, ensuring efficacy, interaction screening, and refills. Prescribers defined their needs as primarily administrative, specifically mentioning formulary management. Both patients and NPs/PAs saw pharmacists primarily as a source for medications and medication information and did not view them as significant contributors to comprehensive drug therapy management. Conclusion: Focus groups are a useful method for gathering information for the purpose of practice development. Data gathered through this work identified a significant gap in awareness of both the qualifications and capabilities of pharmacists, suggesting that future success of the pharmaceutical care practice is dependent on altering existing perceptions held by patients and prescribers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-434
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Innovative Project Grants for Community Pharmacy Residents program sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation. The authors also acknowledge Allen Porter, RPh, and Priya Bardai, PharmD, for their assistance in organizing the focus groups.


  • Community pharmacy
  • Drug therapy management
  • Focus groups
  • Patient perceptions
  • Pharmaceutical care
  • Practice enhancement


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