How can pharmacists develop patient-pharmacist communication skills? A realist review protocol.
BACKGROUND: Good patient-pharmacist communication improves health outcomes. There is, however, room for improving pharmacists' communication skills. These develop through complex interactions during undergraduate pharmacy education, practice-based learning and continuing professional development. Research is needed to determine how best to approach teaching patient-pharmacist communication.
METHODS: The aim of the research is to understand how educational interventions develop patient-pharmacist interpersonal communication skills produce their effects. A realist review approach will be used to synthesise the literature to make sense of the complexities of educational interventions. Our review will iteratively progress through the various stages of clarifying scope, locating existing theories, searching for evidence, appraisal of papers, data extraction and synthesis. A scoping review revealed a number of substantive theories, which will be used to build an initial programme theory. This will be explored through available published evidence, which we will find by searching databases such as Medline, EMBASE, PsychInfo, ERIC, Scopus and Web of Science. Judgements will be made on the relevance and rigour of the retrieved literature and will be taken into consideration during analysis and synthesis. Synthesis, testing and refinement of the theories will describe and explain the links between contexts, mechanisms and outcomes of educational interventions for communication development in pharmacy.
DISCUSSION: The realist review will provide an analysis of what works when, for whom, how and why, for educational interventions for interpersonal patient-pharmacist communication development. We will also explore barriers to successful communications training and acknowledge any limitations. Ultimately, we plan to provide pharmacy educators with evidence for how best to incorporate educational interventions for communications skills development into pharmacy curricula and for life-long learning opportunities for pharmacists.