Improving pharmacist knowledge of oral chemotherapy in the community
BACKGROUND: Approximately 10% of chemotherapy agents are administered orally, with anticipated annual growth of this practice. In the future, community pharmacy practitioners will potentially serve a larger role in the management of patients with cancer. OBJECTIVE: To improve pharmacist confidence, knowledge of oral chemotherapy agents, and dispensing behaviors through live continuing pharmacy education (CPE) programs. METHODS: A prospective cohort study of pharmacists attending live CPE programs in Rhode Island and Maine was conducted between March and May 2010. A survey was administered before and after the educational program; primary outcome measures included change in level of pharmacist confidence in oral chemotherapy knowledge, overall knowledge, and willingness to adjust behavior when dispensing oral chemotherapy agents in community pharmacy. RESULTS: Two hundred fifty-seven of the 410 pharmacists in attendance participated in the survey. Pharmacists significantly improved in confidence level, from no confidence to some confidence (p < 0.001). Counseling the family on the safe handling of oral chemotherapy increased from 37.1% pre-CPE program to 100% post-CPE program. Following the CPE program, behaviors such as (1) using a separate counting tray, (2) wearing gloves, and (3) requiring a double-check improved from 22.5%, 31.5%, and 29.4% baseline to 92.0%, 81.3%, and 81.8%, respectively. All responses to knowledge-based questions improved significantly. CONCLUSIONS: A live CPE program on oral chemotherapy designed to improve pharmacist confidence and knowledge, as well as inform about behaviors, is an effective method. Additional education to improve the knowledge of communitybased practitioners to safely dispense and properly counsel patients receiving oral chemotherapy is required.