The coping strategies of community pharmacists and pharmaceutical services provided during COVID-19 in Malaysia
Background The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in profound health challenges across the globe. Pharmacists’ readiness to cope with the pandemic is critical in supporting and sustaining the healthcare workforce to meet the challenges.
Objective This study aims to examine community pharmacists’ views on their work environment, policies, and preparedness for safe retail patronage to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and assess the variables influencing coping strategies during the pandemic.
Setting An online survey of pharmacists practicing in community pharmacy setting in Malaysia.
Method A questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study was conducted in Malaysia to evaluate coping strategies of community pharmacists and pharmaceutical services provided during COVID-19 pandemic. Between May 1 and July 31, 2020, the questionnaire was distributed to pharmacists working in community setting nationwide utilizing a snowball sampling method.
Main outcome measure Community pharmacists’ perceptions on safety, resilience, organizational support, and pharmaceutical services offered during COVID-19 pandemic.
Results A total of 217 pharmacists participated in the study. The vast majority of community pharmacists reported a positive outlook and were able to balance working with self-care during this period. Most reported to have access to personal protective equipment such as gloves and hand sanitizers. A large proportion of community pharmacies also installed physical barriers in doorways or in front of the counter, put markings on the ground to section areas to ensure physical distancing, and controlled the number of customers who could access the pharmacy during this period. Innovations reported to be implemented included teleconsultations and providing curb-side or drive-through delivery and pickup services.
Conclusion The findings suggest the frontline and essential roles of community pharmacists in delivering pandemic responses, creating the opportunity to determine areas where community pharmacy services can be incorporated to strengthen the public health system and improve patient health outcomes.