Knowing the patient: A qualitative study on care-taking and the clinical pharmacist-patient relationship

Megan B. McCullough*, Beth Ann Petrakis, Christopher Gillespie, Jeffrey L. Solomon, Angela M. Park, Heather Ourth, Anthony Morreale, Adam J. Rose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies have found clinical pharmacists (CPs) and clinical pharmacy specialists (CPSs) in direct patient care have positive effects across various patient outcomes. However, there are also other kinds of care-taking occurring in pharmacy-run clinic appointments that produce value for patients. Objective: To identify and characterize how CPs/CPSs in direct care clinics develop and practice care-taking behaviors which advance the pharmacist-patient relationship. Methods: Semi-structured CP/CPS interviews were conducted once per year for two years (46 year 1, 50 year 2) along with direct observations of clinical pharmacy work as part of an anticoagulation improvement intervention. Participants were from Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers and VHA community-based outpatient clinics in the Northeastern U.S. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed using NVIVO 10 software. Results: It was found that CPs/CPSs practice "knowing the patient" in ways related to, but distinct from this practice in the nursing literature. For CPs/CPSs, knowing the patient occurred over time, and it produced familiarity and trust between CPs/CPs and patients. A reciprocal relationship developed in which patients came to rely on CP/CPSs for other types of assistance. Patterns of knowing the patient and being known by the patient manifested in three distinct ways: 1) identifying the patient's unmet needs, 2) explaining other medications, and 3) helping the patient navigate the system. Conclusion: This research identifies an action, knowing the patient, whereby CPs use their knowledge of the patient to deliver individualized care. This study contributes to the developing literature on pharmacist-patient relationships and pharmacist-patient communication.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)78-90
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Clinical pharmacy services
  • Knowing the patient
  • Patient care
  • Pharmacist-patient communication
  • Pharmacist-patient relationship
  • Time


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