In search of the perfect CMI document

22 June 2009

Equipping pharmacists with up-to-date, accurate information on medicines is of paramount importance.
Equipping pharmacists with up-to-date, accurate information on medicines is of paramount importance.

Pharmacists provide a crucial role in patient healthcare: dispensing medicines; ensuring patients understand the benefits of correct medication; and providing general support and advice. The pharmacist is usually the last health care professional a patient will contact before they begin a course of medicine, making the pharmacist a vital link in the patient-healthcare cycle. Equipping pharmacists with up-to-date, accurate information on medicines is of paramount importance if patients are to understand their medications and gain the best results from their treatment regimens. The advantages and disadvantages of producing and distributing Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) to patients alongside their medications is an important topic of discussion amongst health professionals. Research within this Faculty is contributing to the heart of this debate, with Dr Parisa Aslani, a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, currently investigating many aspects of the use and application of CMI amongst patients, pharmacists, doctors and other stakeholder groups.

Dr Aslani's team are currently reviewing and evaluating existing CMI leaflets from other countries, as well as alternative leaflet designs and content. By collecting qualitative and quantitative data from consumers, pharmacists, GPs, CMI writers and other key stakeholders, the team's ultimate aim is to develop alternative CMI formats. Dr Aslani says "currently there is limited compelling evidence to show that well designed CMIs result in greater use by health care professionals; or a more positive impact on patient medicine knowledge; or quality use of medicines in authentic settings especially long-term use. Even if the current CMI is a "perfect document" why are people not using it? Where is the evidence that says CMI is one of the most important documents to give to patients? Do people want this information in the first place or do they just ignore it?"

Dr Aslani would like the health profession to tackle the problem from multiple angles. "Little research has been done on evaluating the impact of CMI leaflets on patients' long term medication taking behaviour in Australia, although it is known that consumers tend to focus on negative aspects of information such as adverse side effects". Dr Aslani suggests the questions we should be asking are: should every patient be receiving a full CMI every time; should we consider different types of information as an adjunct to CMI; should CMI be a one off provision or something a pharmacist uses over several visits collaboratively with GPs; do CMIs satisfy the information needs of every person; even if the current CMI is a 'perfect document' why are people not using it?

Dr Aslani hopes her current research project will provide the answers. It is clearly a topic, which she is very passionate about, stating "CMI is an important tool which should be used effectively by health professionals to ensure quality use of medicines by consumers - but we need quality CMI".

Contact: Holly Bax-Norman

Phone: 02 9351 2311

Email: 3c5a1f2f4a0e23261b473c5d47160817190d353a661b42