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Community pharmacies can provide effective signposting to weight management services, study finds

Community pharmacies could be used to increase access to weight management services, according to a study published in Public Health Nutrition (online, 23 April 2018)[1].

In a feasibility study conducted in Aberdeen, Scotland, researchers selected community pharmacies in the city that were within 20 minutes’ walking distance of a branch of the weight management service ‘Scottish Slimming’, and had a private consultation room. Of the 23 pharmacies invited, 10 consented to participate in the study.

The aim of the study was to compare the uptake and impact of a free pharmacy-based signposting service; compare retention rates of clients signposted through pharmacies; compare the effect of different models of voucher provision on retention and weight; and compare the client’s and pharmacy staff’s experience of the service.

On the 10 pharmacies in the study, 8 successfully recruited clients to the weight management service. Of the 129 clients recruited, 97 (75%) attended at least one class at Scottish Slimming, and 51 (40%) attended all twelve classes.

For the 97 who attended at least one class, after 12 weeks their mean weight change calculated using the last observation carried forward was –3.70kg, representing a mean weight loss of –3.7% of their initial weight.

One-third of clients lost >5% of their baseline body weight and 4 clients lost >10% of their body weight over the 12-week period. 

Interviews with the clients highlighted that many of the individuals would not have addressed their weight issues if the pharmacy-based referral service had not been available. Pharmacy staff also had positive opinions of the service and said that they would be willing to carry it on in future.

Community pharmacies, therefore, could be used to increase access to weight management services, the authors concluded; however, the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of this service both need to be evaluated further.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204761

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