The role of community pharmacy in the promotion of continence care : a systematic review

Uren, Alan and Dawson, Shoba and Cotterill, Nikki and Williams, Ade and McLeod, Hugh and Chandler, David and Watson, Margaret (2024) The role of community pharmacy in the promotion of continence care : a systematic review. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 20 (8). pp. 689-696. ISSN 1551-7411 (

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Objectives Community pharmacies are convenient healthcare settings which provide a wide range of services in addition to medicine supply. Continence care is an area where there is an opportunity for the implementation of new innovations to improve clinical and service outcomes. The objective was to systematically evaluate evidence for the effectiveness, safety, acceptability and key determinants of interventions for the promotion and implementation of continence care in the community pharmacy setting. Methods The protocol was registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews database (PROSPERO: CRD42022322558). The databases Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and CINAHL were searched and supplemented by grey literature searches, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses checklist. In total, 338 titles and abstracts were screened, 20 studies underwent full-text screening and four studies met the inclusion criteria and underwent quality assessment. The results are reported narratively due to the heterogeneity of study designs. Results There was some evidence for the effectiveness of interventions, resulting in increased provision of consumer self-help advice and materials, referrals to other care providers, and an increase in staff knowledge and confidence in continence care. Evidence was inconclusive for clinical outcomes due to small sample sizes and poor follow-up rates. Acceptability of interventions to both pharmacy staff and consumers was generally positive with some frustrations with reimbursement procedures and time constraints. Facilitators of a successful pharmacy-based continence service are likely to include staff training, high-quality self-care resources, increased public awareness, and the establishment of effective referral pathways and appropriate reimbursement (of service providers). Conclusions There is a paucity of evidence regarding the contribution of the community pharmacy sector to continence care. The development of a new pharmacy bladder and bowel service should involve patients, healthcare professionals and policy stakeholders to address the potential barriers and build upon the facilitators identified by this review. Patient summary We identified research that had explored how community pharmacy (chemist) personnel might support people with continence problems (e.g. bladder and bowel leakage). Only four studies were identified, however, they reported that training for pharmacy personnel and providing self-help advice about continence can be successful and was well-received by patients.