Many patients are poor dental attenders yet frequently visit their community pharmacy and are open to a pharmacy based oral health intervention.
Patients reported improved knowledge and intention to change oral healthcare routines following receipt of the intervention.
Further research to explore potential pharmacy based oral health services and interprofessional collaboration with the dental profession should be sought.
Introduction Poor oral health is a significant public health concern, costing the NHS in England £3.4 billion annually. Community pharmacies are easily accessible, frequently visited by patients and the community pharmacy contractual framework requires pharmacies to provide healthy living advice to patients - therefore offering a little explored avenue for the delivery of oral health interventions.
Methodology A pilot oral health promotion intervention was introduced in five pharmacies in deprived areas of County Durham between September and December 2016. A mixed methods approach to the evaluation was performed, utilising a patient evaluation questionnaire and semi-structured qualitative interviews with pharmacy staff.
Results One thousand and eighty-nine participants received the intervention. Following the intervention 72% of participants perceived their knowledge of oral health as much better, 66% definitely intended to change their oral health habits and 64% definitely thought a pharmacy was the right place to receive advice about oral health. Three themes emerged from the qualitative data: (1) intervention feedback, (2) knowledge gap and (3) service development.
Discussion The data demonstrated the acceptability of patients to a community pharmacy based oral health intervention, with most patients reporting intentions to change their oral healthcare habits after receiving the intervention. Previous literature has identified a willingness of pharmacy staff to become involved with oral health; this study provides evidence that patients are also receptive to such services being delivered in the community pharmacy setting. Further work is required to assess the benefits of a community pharmacy based oral health intervention and the potential for further growth of this role.
Conclusion A community pharmacy is perceived by patients as an acceptable provider of oral health interventions and has the potential to provide positive changes to the oral health of the population.
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Sandra Laws, Oral Health Promotion, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust; the five community pharmacies and their staff who participated in the pilot and the evaluation; the patients who received the intervention.
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Sturrock, A., Cussons, H., Jones, C. et al. Oral health promotion in the community pharmacy: an evaluation of a pilot oral health promotion intervention. Br Dent J 223, 521–525 (2017) doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.784
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