Pharmacy Education Research Group
The Pharmacy Education Research Group comprises academic staff of the School of Pharmacy with a strong background in both undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacist education and health care professional education in general.
The key research themes of the group are:
- assessment of the educational needs of health care professionals
- development, implementation and evaluation of educational materials for health care professionals, based on current models of best practice
- promotion of the role of health care professionals in the provision of education for specific patient groups and in health promotion
- implementation and evaluation of shared learning among health care professionals
Members of the group have extensive experience and expertise in curriculum development and implementation at all levels of course provision (undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing professional developmental) and in related quantitative and qualitative research methodology. Collaborative links have been developed with a number of other academic institutions, NHS providers and NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Executive Health Department.
Among current research interests are:
Dr L Diack took up post as the first lecturer in e-learning in the School of Pharmacy in October 2004 with a view to embedding e-learning throughout the School of Pharmacy’s portfolio of courses. It is essential to establish that this innovative approach delivers learning materials that are appropriate, effective and efficient and user-friendly and the focus of the research, therefore, is to evaluate all stages of the programme. The output will contribute to the evidence base on e-learning and inform further developments, both in the School and across the Faculty of Health and Social Care. The e-learning group comprises Dr Diack, a technical support officer due to take up post in January, Prof Healey (Head of School), Dr D Cairns, Dr D Stewart and Dr S Cunningham. Collaborators include Aberdeen and Strathclyde Universities, NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Executive Health Department.
It is widely acknowledged that one way to minimise professional barriers among different health care professions and to promote effective team-work is to share information regarding roles and responsibilities and the ideal time to start this is during undergraduate education. To this end, a shared learning programme in which prospective doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational health therapists, and social workers join together in problem-based learning activities has been established through Scottish Executive funding between Aberdeen and The Robert Gordon Universities. Evaluation of this programme is ongoing by the shared learning group, headed up by Dr Diack and also involving Prof T Healey, Mrs R Edwards along with Prof C Bond and Dr H McKenzie from Aberdeen University.
The Robert Gordon University trained the first pharmacists in the UK to register with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as supplementary prescribers, which allows them to make specific decisions regarding clinical management of patients in partnership with doctors. As this is a new role for pharmacists the educational aspect needs to be supported by research to ensure that robust, flexible learning programmes are established to meet current and long-term training needs. Current areas of interest include: the experience of pharmacists during the period in practice element of the course and pharmacists’ perceptions of training needs in consultation skills
Independent pharmacist prescribing (where the pharmacist alone assumes responsibility for certain clinical decisions) is currently being considered and consultation exercises will commence in 2005. The group is currently examining the views of community pharmacists in Scotland regarding independent prescribing.
Research group members involved are D Stewart, D Pfleger, S Cunningham, R Edwards, D McCaig, B Addison and K Munro. External collaborators are Professor C Bond and Dr J Clelland (both University of Aberdeen) and Ms A Strath (Scottish Executive Health Department).
Educational Needs of Patients
1. Advice on Alcohol Consumption in Community Pharmacies
Community pharmacy involvement in health promotion is strong in a number of areas including reducing risk of cardiovascular disease through lipid and blood pressure management and smoking cessation. There is currently no evidence of community pharmacy activity, however, in the area of alcohol consumption in terms of identifying hazardous or harmful drinking. This is despite strong evidence that brief interventions in primary care can reduce alcohol consumption.
Funding has been received from the Alcohol Education Research Council to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot project to deliver interventions on alcohol issues in community pharmacies.
Research group members involved are Dr D Stewart and Dr D McCaig. Dr N Fitzgerald (senior research fellow) is project manager. External collaborators are S Bryson, F Moffat and D Thomson (NHS Glasgow); Professor H Watson (Glasgow Caledonian University).
2. Diabetes Mellitus
The incidence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus is increasing at an alarming rate a poses a huge health care problem worldwide. More effective management of these patients, who often have very complex pharmaceutical care needs, is essential and NHS Scotland has responded to the need to provide type 2 diabetes patients with additional support by implementing an innovative pharmaceutical care model scheme (PCMS) based in community pharmacies from 2006/07. Research is planned to evaluate the scheme from the perspectives of the patient and the community pharmacist.
Ongoing research is aimed at identifying the counselling and advice required by Type 2 diabetes patients to enable them to take an active role in their disease management. In addition, the educational needs of primary care nurses who are closely involved in delivering health care are being assessed to ensure that they are able to provide the high standard of care and information required by the patients.
Research group members involved are Dr D Stewart, Dr D McCaig, Dr S Cunningham and Mrs K Munro. Dr R Knott of the School of Pharmacy and Dr B West of the Centre for Nursing Practice, Research and Development are also involved. External collaborators are Professor A Morris (University of Dundee), Ms A McGregor (Scottish Executive Health Department), A Davie, L Juroszek and A Taylor (NHS Grampian).
MSc/PhD Research Projects
The Pharmacy Education Research Group was established in a recent re-organisation of research activity within the School of Pharmacy, but its members have considerable supervisory experience at both MSc and PhD level in a broad range of areas. It is anticipated that the group will work together to both build on existing strengths and to diversify. We are keen, therefore, to support research students interested in any of the areas described above.