Pharmacist responsiveness to disasters

Just how prepared are registered pharmacists to respond to disasters such as bioterrorism?

Researchers from the School of Clinical Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology found that less than 18% of registered pharmacists were prepared to respond to disasters such as bioterrorism.

This information came from a study published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice.

Researchers conducted a systematic literature review to explore pharmacists’ and pharmacy students’ preparedness for disasters.

“The 2019–2020 bushfire disaster in Australia, and the global Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of health professionals being prepared for disasters,” they say.

“In order to prevent disruptions to the essential services provided by pharmacists during disasters, it is important that pharmacists across all practice settings are prepared.”

They add that while the pharmacy professions’ preparedness appears to be low, the factors that may influence preparedness may include:

Disaster preparedness interventions – through education, training and drills.

Clinical and administrative competency – the studies found that preparedness is directly correlated with perceived competency to fulfil roles in a bioterrorist event.

Perceived competency may impact an individual pharmacists’ disaster preparedness.

Willingness to respond – in one of the studies, participants’ willingness to respond was reported by the size of the bioterrorist incident (local, regional, statewide or nationwide impacts), and the perceived risk of the event (high or low risk).

When compared to physicians and nurses, pharmacists were the least likely health professional to respond to a bioterrorist event.

The proportion of pharmacists that were willing to respond to bioterrorist events varied between 44.5% for a low risk and nationwide event, to 80.7% for a low risk and local event.

Demographic factors – modelling in the 2010 paper found that gender, city type, current position and primary workplace were significant predictors of overall preparedness.

Pharmacists were significantly less prepared for bioterrorist attacks when compared with nurses and physicians.

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