The pharmacist’s role in disasters is just as important as in everyday practice. Lack of access to health care services and interruptions to continuity of medication care are the major concerns for chronic disease patients during disasters. Pharmacists’ responsibilities during crises is undefined and their skills and knowledge are underutilized.
To convene an expert panel to discuss the role of pharmacists in disasters and the specific roles they could be undertaking in a disaster, prioritizing the roles in order of importance.
There were 15 key opinion leaders identified as experts in their knowledge of pharmacists’ roles and the disaster health management field who agreed to participate in the three rounds of surveys. The first round provided the panelists with a list of 46 roles identified from previous research conducted and the literature. The panelists were asked to rank their opinion of pharmacist’s capability of undertaking each role on a 5-point Likert scale and consensus was set at 80%. There were three rounds of surveys with the final round presenting the results for the panel to provide qualitative comments on the results and roles. The roles were broken up into the four phases of disaster management – prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery (PPRR).
Out of the 46 roles provided to the panelists, consensus was reached on 43 roles with 80% of panelists being in agreement. The experts identified pharmacists had roles across the entire PPRR cycle. The roles included pharmacists being further integrated into disaster teams and managing low-acuity patients requiring chronic disease medications.
This Delphi study begins the process of defining roles for pharmacists in disasters. It can assist policymakers in providing changes to legislative frameworks to allow pharmacists to undertake the roles identified as being beneficial to a community in a disaster.