Towards equity: a qualitative exploration of the implementation and impact of a digital educational intervention for pharmacy professionals in England


Background Patients belonging to marginalised (medically under-served) groups experience problems with medicines (i.e. non-adherence, side effects) and poorer health outcomes largely due to inequitable access to healthcare (arising from poor governance, cultural exclusion etc.). In order to promote service equity and outcomes for patients, the focus of this paper is to explore the implementation and impact of a new co-produced digital educational intervention on one National Health Service (NHS) funded community pharmacy medicines management service.

Methods Semi-structured interviews with a total of 32 participants. This included a purposive sample of 22 community pharmacy professionals, (16 pharmacists and 6 pharmacy support staff) all who offered the medicine management service. In order to obtain a fuller picture of the barriers to learning, five professionals who were unable to complete the learning were also included. Ten patients (from a marginalised group) who had received the service (as a result of the digital educational intervention) were also interviewed. Drawing on an interpretative analysis, Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) was used as a theoretical framework.

Results Three themes are explored. The first is how the digital learning intervention was implemented and applied. Despite being well received, pharmacists found it challenging completing and cascading the learning due to organisational constraints (e.g. lack of time, workload). Using the four NPT constructs (coherence, cognitive participation, collective action and reflexive monitoring) the second theme exposes the impact of the learning and the organisational process of ‘normalisation’. Professional reflective accounts revealed instances where inequitable access to health services were evident. Those completing the intervention felt more aware, capable and better equipped to engage with the needs of patients who were from a marginalised group. Operationally there was minimal structural change in service delivery constraining translation of learning to practice. The impact on patients, explored in our final theme, revealed that they experience significant disadvantage and problems with their medicines. The medication review was welcomed and the discussion with the pharmacist was helpful in addressing their medicine-related concerns.

Conclusions The co-produced digital educational intervention increases pharmacy professionals’ awareness and motivation to engage with marginalised groups. However structural barriers often hindered translation into practice. Patients reported significant health and medicine challenges that were going unnoticed. They welcomed the additional support the medication review offered. Policy makers and employers should better enable and facilitate ways for pharmacy professionals to better engage with marginalised groups. The impact of the educational intervention on patients’ health and medicines management could be substantial if supported and promoted effectively.


open access article


Community pharmacy, Digital learning, Medicines use reviews (MURs), Co-production, Normalisation process theory (NPT), Medically under-served groups


Latif, A., Waring, J., Pollock, K., Solomon, J., Gulzar, N., Choudhary, S., Anderson, C. (2019) Towards equity: a qualitative exploration of the implementation and impact of a digital educational intervention for pharmacy professionals in England. International Journal for Equity in Health, 18, article number 151.


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)