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Pharmacists and Caring For Others: Causes for Concern

Pharmacists and Caring For Others: Causes for Concern

Pharmacists are community healthcare professionals who have interactions with individuals experiencing mental illness and addiction on a daily basis. While much research has been done in terms of the effectiveness of pharmacist work in improving patient outcomes, but what factors are impeding them from providing effective care? For many of us, completing work assignments and providing direct, empathetic care to consumers are a complete dichotomy – by learning of the common experiences of many pharmacists, perhaps innovative ideas can be generated for helping consumers in a more personable way.

A 2016 study published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy involved a focus group and two interviews with 6 pharmacists to gain perspective on their social/professional role and their identity, environmental contexts, and resources. Overall, 5 themes were found regarding mental illness and addiction care:


  • Competing interests, demands, and time – many pharmacists reported business practices getting in the way of their time and attention with patients; the unpredictability of workflow and issues with human resources also adds complexity to provider-patient interactions.
  • Relationships, rapport, and trust – pharmacists valued rapport and trust, as they viewed this as a requirement for clients to be able to accept their advice and move forward with recommendations. However, several pharmacists mentioned the concern of not knowing whether a patient is misusing prescriptions.
  • Stigma – pharmacists often felt a sense of stigma surrounding mental illnesses, addictions, and medications, making it more challenging for them to feel support from some in their community.
  • Collaboration and triage – a desire for resources was mentioned amongst pharmacists, with many wanting to work with several healthcare providers such as physicians and social workers to provide a cohesive experience for patients. At times, however, issues would arise, which would complicate the process rather than simplify it.
  • Role expectations and clarity – several pharmacists emphasized the “grey area” or “blurred lines” regarding to their role of providing support and the boundaries associated with pharmaceutical care. For some, tools and techniques for saying “no” to clients who, for example, wanted to talk about personal issues (such as one would discuss with a therapist), were deemed important.


Pharmacists face unique challenges in their field, and it’s important to find healthy ways to manage the stress and pressure that comes with seeing and assisting many people with medication. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about programs to better your mental health and/or assist you with recovery from an addiction. It’s never too late to seek the help you need.

Created by professionals for professionals, our Professionals Treatment Program utilizes industry proven practices for fully restoring professionals back to better health. We serve multiple industries with our specifically catered programs and services, providing life changing care for addiction and co-occurring issues. Call us today to book an appointment: 855-422-4129



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