Oral health promotion in the community pharmacy: an evaluation of a pilot oral health promotion intervention

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Key Points

  • 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.

Abstract

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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Acknowledgements

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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Correspondence to A. Sturrock.

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Refereed Paper

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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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