Building best practice in clinical pharmacy

Written by | 12 Aug 2023 | 'In Discussion With'

ESCP recognises that the translation of academic evidence into day-to-day practice is an important step in the development of clinical pharmacy services – and ESCP Best Practice papers are designed to support this process.

ESCP President Derek Stewart explains how Best Practice papers are produced, starting by calling for abstracts of proposed papers from interested parties. After independent review “the best ones are then invited to submit full papers to IJCP [the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy]. Now there’s a specific structure of that paper – so it’s not a normal research paper because here we’re looking for innovations in practice – really about how do you take the evidence from the literature, the policies. ….  the clinical guidelines – how do you translate that into an innovation in practice? …. So, that’s what we’re looking at in the paper – it’s not an ‘introduction, method, results, discussion’, traditional paper.”  Importantly, authors are asked to explain many of the practical details of implementation including the facilitators and barriers, how barriers were overcome and how the impact of the initiative was evaluated.

So far at least 10 Best Practice papers have been published. “Our very first one was a big interprofessional network on Parkinson’s disease in Germany which had no Pharmacy input. So this best practice paper was about how they pulled the pharmacy input and actually showed ….. the difference it could make.  So, had that been submitted as a traditional research paper it would not have had the robustness or rigor [required] as an academic piece of work but in terms of best practice it was really important. The next one was looking at advanced general practice pharmacists – pharmacists working a very high level within GP practices – and how they developed simulated teaching for that development.  ……. Then, another really interesting example that leads on from the last one is looking in the Netherlands at how they have developed pharmacists working in general practices”, says Professor Stewart. These three examples illustrate the three fundamental pillars of the ESCP – practice, education and research, he adds.

The most recent Best Practice paper deals with the implementation of a seven-day, 24-hour clinical pharmacy service in a big, UK teaching hospital. “To me, as President but also Editor, these are extremely important pieces of work because they show the real-life implementation of the research. We need the research to give us the evidence base but we need to think how does it make a difference in practice”, comments Professor Stewart.

Strategic planning and tackling diversity

“There’s a huge diversity even across Europe in terms of clinical Pharmacy education [and] clinical Pharmacy practice” and tackling these differences is a large part of the raison d’être for the ESCP, acknowledges Professor Stewart.

Research priorities

The Research Committee is just about to finish the piloting of a questionnaire for a survey that will go to members asking them to identify research priorities. Pulling the information together in this way could be beneficial. “If you’ve got people in lots of different countries doing similar pieces of work – and we see it when our abstracts come through for our events – we need to somehow link those people better together. So, what changes from being 10 small pieces of research becomes one big impactful piece of research. There’s then maybe a chance to get research funding for that – not through ESCP – but through other organizations….. So, I think ….there’s a piece of work for us to do around almost scoping those abstracts – I think actually we can link these people together around that or link people who’ve got a bit more expertise in areas with the people who’ve got less expertise in those areas” explains Professor Stewart.


About Derek Stewart

Derek Stewart PgCert, BSc (1st), MSc, PhD, FRPharmS, FFRPS is Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice, Qatar University. He is also visiting professor at Robert Gordon University in Scotland and at the Royal College of surgeons of Ireland. In addition, he is President of the European Society of clinical Pharmacy and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.


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