“Pharmacy: Always trusted for your health” is the theme of this year’s World Pharmacists Day on 25 September 2021.
Why this theme?
Trust is a central part of all human relationships and a fundamental element of social capital. Trust is also essential to health care: there is a significant association between trust in healthcare professionals and health outcomes for patients.1 Across diverse clinical settings, patients reported greater satisfaction with treatment, showed more beneficial health behaviours and fewer symptoms, and experienced improved quality of life when they had higher trust in their healthcare professionals.
People trust us
For many years, pharmacists have consistently been named among the top five most trusted professionals in national surveys.2–4 Educators are also consistently in the top five2,3 and, according to a recent survey, scientists are the most trusted people in the world.5 Pharmacists, educators and scientists? That’s our pharmacy profession.
Why are we trusted?
Three elements are necessary for trust: positive relationships, competency/expertise, and consistency.
Positive relationships Our genuine interest in our patients and time taken to listen to their needs, as well as our extra efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, have helped us to establish meaningful connections and continue to build positive relationships.
Competency/expertise We typically complete a four-year Master of Pharmacy degree or a doctorate in pharmacy, followed by a preregistration year/internship. Once registered, we undertake lifelong learning or further training to become more specialised.
Consistency As the most accessible healthcare provider in many parts of the world, working in premises that operate longer working hours than many other healthcare facilities, we and our pharmacies are more able to demonstrate, consistently, our skills and caring.
Many patient-pharmacist relationships are grounded in trust built over time. The public trusts our advice. They trust us to maintain confidentiality. More and more governments are trusting us to administer vaccines and to provide other expanded services, such as testing. Healthcare systems trust us to find solutions for medicines shortages. There are many more examples.
Why is this so important now?
Trust is a reservoir of goodwill for future use,7 and pharmacy has built up a big reserve over many years of caring and excellent practice. Now our societies are in a time of general distrust, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the infodemic around it. Trust barometers have found that distrust of societal leaders has increased and distrust of information sources is at a record high.8 At a time of uncertainty and when vaccines hesitancy remains a major hurdle,8 public trust in pharmacy is more important than ever before. We give advice based on the best scientific evidence. We can oppose the anti-vaxxers. We can use the trust in us to benefit our communities.
Join us on 25 September to show your appreciation for the trust in our profession and to make this and our vital role in improving health known in every corner of the world!
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1. Birkhäuer J, Gaab J, Kossowsky J, et al. Trust in the health care professional and health outcome: A meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017
2. Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions. Trust in professions 2018.
3. Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions. Trust in professions 2016.
4. Gallup. Nurses continue to rate highest in honesty, ethics. 6 January 2020.
5. Ipsos. Global trust in professions. 2019.
6. Zenger J, Folkman J. The three elements of trust. Harvard Business Review. 5 February 2019.
7. Shore D. Communicating in times of uncertainty: The need for trust. Journal of Health Communication 2003;8: 13–14.
8. Edelman Trust Barometer 2021.