Background Since 1991, Apoteket AB (the national corporation of Swedish pharmacies) has conducted so called “theme years”, focusing on one widespread disease each year, in order to improve drug use. In 2002, Swedish pharmacies will pay special attention to persons with Rheumatic disorders. To prepare for this, we wanted to learn more about the problems associated with these diseases.
Objectives In order to identify disease-related difficulties in this group of patients, a Problem Detection Study (PDS) was performed. A PDS study not only identifies problems, it also ranks the problems according to how troublesome the patients find them.
Methods Initially, interviews with individuals and groups of patients were performed in order to identify all problems. This qualitative step identified 116 different problems. A questionnaire based on the problems was distributed to 950 patients in Sweden. The patients were to give each problem a grade, from 0 (no problem at all) to 3 (large problem). The average grade for each problem was calculated and a list of all problems, ranked by their average grade, was generated. The problem with the highest average was the worst one.
Results 75% of the 950 patients included answered the questionnaire. This large response rate may be due to an eager among these patients to improve their situation. Problems regarding everyday life were found most troublesome. The largest problem was “It is frustrating that I´m unable to do everything I wish to, due to my RD”. The average grade for this problem was 2,5, which is very high compared to results from similar studies on other groups. The top 50 problems were further analysed, and divided into six categories. Many large problems were connected to everyday life. Problems regarding understanding, from others and from the community, were also important, as well as problems concerning the use of drugs and lack of information. The five subgroups, RA, Arthritis, SLE, Mb Bechterew, Fibromyalgia had very similar experiences, although the latter group differed to some extent.
Conclusions These results are important in several ways. First, they indicate what measures pharmacists can take to solve some of these problems. For instance by counselling in the pharmacies or by information to relatives and others close to the patients. Second, the results will help pharmacists understand these patients better and thereby improve their ability to meet the patients professionally. The study is also of great value in the production of material for continuing education of the Swedish pharmacists.
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