Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

MB smoking cessation helps vulnerable group

Pharmacist Trevor Shewfelt counsels a patient on smoking cessation.

August 2015—Pharmacists in Manitoba have proven they can have a significant impact on improving the health of smokers, show the results of a pilot project supported by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy, Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and Pfizer Canada.

Led by Pharmacists Manitoba in partnership with Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors, College of Pharmacists of Manitoba and College of Pharmacy, University of Manitoba, the pilot was conducted over almost a year, involving 12 pharmacies and 119 patients over the age of 18 who were on unemployment and income assistance. The aim was to demonstrate the value of pharmacists in the delivery of preventative healthcare.

“Pharmacists proved that they are a key access point to a majority of the population—much more so than other healthcare providers,” says Dr. Brenna Shearer, Chief Executive Officer, Pharmacists Manitoba.  “Those who participated really appreciated the opportunity to enhance their smoking cessation services and would have liked to offer the program to a wider range of people.”

Patients were asked to complete smoking cessation forms and log every cigarette consumed within a 24-hour period. Their responses were assessed by the pharmacist who then initiated a quit date, and determined the best use of smoking cessation aides. Follow-up visits with the pharmacist were scheduled on the quit date, one week later, and then one, tree and six months following that.

The results showed that 41% of patients reduced their number of cigarettes a day and 63% of them experienced a reduction in coughing as a result. While only 2% quit smoking entirely, 19% quit for three months and 30% quit for one month.

Given that this was a low-income patient group, Brenna says the reduction in cigarettes used per day could result in significant monthly savings—up to $266 per month, per person.  “That’s a sizable portion of their available monthly income,” she says. “Even the cost of running the program ($470 per patient) is significantly less than the potential health service costs incurred by smokers in the healthcare system.”

A report on the pilot results has been submitted to the provincial government for review and Shearer says her hope is that pharmacists will be recognized and compensated for being viable healthcare providers who provide smoking cessation services.

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