Practicing pharmacists’ patient counseling skills in the contextof reflectivity


  • Heli Kansanaho Division of Social Pharmacy, Viikinkaari 5 E (B.O.Box 56), 00014, University of Helsinki, Finland.
  • Maria Cordina Department of Pharmacy, University of Malta, Malta
  • Inka Puumalainen Department of Social Pharmacy, University of Kuopio, Finland.
  • Marja Airaksinen Division of Social Pharmacy, University of Helsinki,Finland.


Counseling, Finland, pharmacists, reflectivity


Background: Pharmacists are expected to develop and re-evaluate their expertise in order to succeed in their working life, thus fulfilling the demands of the society. One of the tasks that has become essential in modern pharmacy practice is “reflective communication about medicines” with patients.

Methods: The purpose of this study was to describe the levels of patient counseling skills of 40 Finnish community pharmacists in the context of reflectivity. The theoretical background of the study was based on United States Pharmacopeia(USP) Medication Counseling Stages and Mezirow’s theoretical underpinning. The data consisted of essays written by 40 practicing pharmacists (M.Sc. and B.Sc. Pharm.) before starting the one-year patient counseling courses in 2000 (n=2) and 2001 (n=19). The data were analysed using categorization and thematic analysis.

Results: The results showed that only one pharmacist reached the level of critical consciousness. Altogether, 22 pharmacists remained at the level of affective reflectivity (the novice level of competency) and 10 remained at the level of consciousness (the beginner level of competency). With the exception of one pharmacist, they had poor understanding of the interactive role of a patient.

Conclusion: New teaching methods and evaluation tools applicable to basic education, continuing education and in-house training are needed to support reflective learning process in developing professional competencies, such as patient counseling skills.


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Research Article