Weather-related natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity, severely impacting communities. The patient demographic requiring assistance in a disaster is changing from acute traumas to chronic disease exacerbations. Adequate management requires a multidisciplinary healthcare approach. Pharmacists have been recorded in various disaster roles in literature. However, their roles within these disaster health teams are not well-established and do not fully utilize their skill sets.
To identify where pharmacists roles are within the four phases of a disaster – prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery (PPRR), and to determine the barriers to pharmacists being better integrated into disaster teams.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 international key stakeholders and pharmacists. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using both open and axial manual coding, as well as the text-analytics software Leximancer®. The use of these two methods provided triangulation of methods for reliability of results. This research project was covered by QUT ethics approval number 1700000106.
The themes identified were community, government, "disaster management," "pharmacy," and "barriers and facilitators." The Leximancer® analysis compared the different disaster perspective and experience levels of the participants. The more experienced disaster health professionals who had worked closely with pharmacists believed they were capable of undertaking more roles in a disaster.
Pharmacists have been placed in the logistics "silo" for their role in disaster management supply chain operations. However, pharmacists have the expertise, knowledge, and skills which transcend this "silo" to work across the multiple health roles in disasters. Pharmacists are identified as a critical piece to the puzzle in the disaster management throughout the PPRR cycle. They are capable of undertaking more roles in disasters in addition to the established logistics role. The barriers identified need to be addressed for the better integration of pharmacists into disaster teams.