The Health Research Council of New Zealand has granted more than $1.2 million in funding to the project, which will examine the impact of recent reforms to community pharmacy services.
The project is led by Professor Jackie Cumming, director of the Health Services Research Centre in Victoria University's School of Government.
A pharmacist’s traditional role of dispensing medicines is shifting, she says.
“Since the introduction of the Primary Health Care Strategy in 2001 there’s been a growing emphasis on enhancing services to keep people well within the community. A number of recent national strategies reflect this reorientation.
“This includes extending the role of pharmacies to provide individual care closer to home, and deliver more preventive services including helping people to manage their wellbeing and improve their health literacy.
“There’s also been an emphasis on making optimal use of community pharmacists’ skills to help manage the increasing pressure on the primary health care workforce.”
Professor Cumming says despite its perceived promise, the evidence to support these changes is not strong.
“We know very little about the extent to which we’re succeeding in extending the role of community pharmacy in New Zealand, nor about the impact of reform.
“Our research will investigate the expected changes to pharmacy services over the next five years, what these changes hope to achieve, and how successful they are. The study will involve us working with pharmacists to understand how services are developing, and with pharmacy service users to get their views.”
Professor Cumming is working with Victoria University’s Drs Janet McDonald, Megan Pledger, Lynne Russell, Kirsten Smiler and Ausaga Fa’asalele Tanuvasa, and the University of Otago’s Dr Caroline Morris.
The research will inform the ongoing development of effective pharmacy services in New Zealand.