Nulungu Journal Articles


Background: The primary health care management of chronic disease affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples requires healthcare quality and equity demands to be met, and systems that foster better team-based care. Non-dispensing pharmacists (NDPs) integrated within primary healthcare settings can enhance the quality of patient care, although factors that enable or challenge integration within these settings need to be better understood.

Objectives: To investigate enabling factors and barriers influencing integration of NDPs within Aboriginal community-controlled health services delivering primary health care. This was achieved through qualitative evaluation of the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (IPAC) Trial exploring the perceptions of NDPs, community pharmacists, healthcare staff, managers, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients of these services.

Methods: NDPs were employed across twenty urban, rural, and remote services in three Australian states and provided pre-defined medication-related roles to adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Perceptions were elicited from online surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Transcripts were thematically analyzed using the constant comparison method to identify, compare, and refine emerging themes.

Results: One hundred and four participants informed the findings, including 24 NDPs, 13 general practitioners, 12 service managers, 10 community pharmacists, 17 health service staff, and 17 patients. Enablers of integration included: personal (previous experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultural awareness, skills, individual attributes); health service-related (induction programs, Aboriginal Health Worker support, team-building initiatives); and community-related factors (engaged community elders, leaders, cultural mentors, community pharmacy champions). Barriers to NDP integration included a lack of systems supports for patients and staff to adapt to NDP roles, health service factors, travel requirements, a lack of community linkages, and time and budget constraints.

Conclusions: NDP integration within primary health care services has potential to enhance medication-related services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples if enabling factors are supported and health systems and adequate resources facilitate the integration of pharmacists within these settings.


community pharmacist, integrated pharmacist, primary care, pharmacy services, Indigenous care, qualitative research

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