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Pharmacists critical in helping people to practice self-care with confidence: survey

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People are opting to visit pharmacists for self-care and are conscious of the positive impact it can have on alleviating healthcare system pressures, a new survey has found.

While it is still common for consumers across Europe to seek advice or reassurance from a GP, particularly when symptoms last longer than usual or are worse than normal, almost every second consumer (49%) has chosen to visit a pharmacist rather than a doctor for advice in the last year, even though a consultation was necessary from their point of view.

Around a fifth (19%) have done so multiple times, the survey of 5,000 European consumers, commissioned by consumer health company Kenvue, has found.

In the UK, findings show that pharmacists are a highly valued source of healthcare advice for consumers.

More than a quarter (29%) of those who had chosen to visit a pharmacist rather than a doctor in the last year said this was because they trust their local pharmacist to provide healthcare advice. Additionally, over one third said (35%) said this is where they typically turn to for healthcare advice, compared to 34 per cent who normally seek advice from their GP.

Kenvue said the high level of trust in pharmacists is positive news for healthcare systems more broadly.

Previous research showed that if self-medication were not available, around 120,000 more physicians would be required in Europe or, alternatively, each physician would have to work 2.4 hours longer per day [Association of the European Self-Care Industry, 2021].

This was echoed in the new survey, which found that if self-care treatments were less accessible, most UK consumers would visit a doctor for a prescription instead.

Survey responses indicate that consumers in the UK recognise the positive role that pharmacists and self-care play in building sustainable healthcare systems. Close to half (48%) who prefer to get treatments for minor ailments from a pharmacy said they do so to save doctors’ time.

Results also suggest that consumers would benefit from a greater understanding of the services and advice pharmacists offer, particularly when they feel unsure about what to do.

A quarter of the UK respondents currently choose to visit a doctor for minor ailments simply for reassurance (25%) and 15 per cent would see a doctor for guidance on product choice or dosage – both areas where pharmacists could provide advice and help consumers feel more confident about their self-care choices, the study noted.

“Empowering people to take control of their health is something we strive to do every day through our brands such as Nicorette, Zarbee’s, Benylin and Sudafed, because we know how impactful everyday care can be,” Angeliki Kazantzidi, Head of Marketing for Kenvue in Northern Europe, commented.

“It’s extremely positive to see that consumers in the UK recognise the importance of self-care and the role it can play in our healthcare system. Pharmacists have a crucial role to play as a source of expert healthcare advice and services, helping more consumers to practice self-care with confidence.”

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