Patients and Pharmacists Addressing Social Determinants of Health Together

Although many pharmacists have partnered with public health entities and providers to address and improve challenges associated with social determinants of health (SDOH), there has not been a pharmacy screening tool developed with patient input.  

It is vital that screening and interventions to address SDOH barriers are co-developed by patients and pharmacists for maximum effectiveness and relevance. Involving patients in the development, implementation and evaluation of such tools will ensure a focus on patients’ health-related needs and desired health outcomes.  

For these reasons, the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) and the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) are convening diverse patients and pharmacy practitioners and researchers to identify and prioritize research topics and evidence needed to improve SDOH screening and interventions in community pharmacies. Supported by funding through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EASCS-23304), the project has a focus on patient-centered outcomes (social need, non-clinical outcomes). It will ensure patient perspectives and needs are incorporated into research on SDOH screenings and interventions as they become more widespread in pharmacies. 

The project has assembled a patient-led planning committee including six patients, two pharmacy representatives, and one pharmacy researcher. The planning committee members include: 

  • Amina Abubakar, Avant Pharmacy and Wellness 
  • Sarita Battish, patient representative  
  • Richard Erickson, patient representative 
  • Michael Johnsrud, University of Texas at Austin 
  • Jessica Jones, patient representative 
  • Dorothy Loy, co-chair, Walgreens 
  • Ashton Nesmith-Kochera, patient representative 
  • Michael Olex, patient representative 
  • Adam Thompson, co-chair, patient representative 

The committee has met regularly over a five-month span since December to determine the direction, content and format of the convening events. Just last week, the first convening event was held virtually. In addition to the planning committee, over 40 pharmacy stakeholders were in attendance from community pharmacies, health plans and other payers, health technology vendors, and research organizations.  

PQA Senior Research Scientist Megha Parikh and PQA Research Scientist DeBran Tarver presented results from a literature review and gap analysis that identified existing resources and evidence of addressing SDOH in the pharmacy setting, as well as gaps in knowledge.The event participants identified gaps and then were split into breakout groups to discuss the gaps and suggest other topics of importance. The results of these activities will inform further research to address SDOH in the pharmacy setting. 

The next phase of this work occurs right before the 2022 PQA Annual Meeting. An invitation-only in-person workshop on May 3 will focus on the prioritized list from the first convening and ask participants to dive deeper into topics by focusing on meaningfulness, feasibility, potential partnerships and impact on outcomes. The in-person workshop will highlight patient preferences and priorities through storytelling and a spotlight panel to ensure the discussions are centered on patients.  

A breakout session at the annual meeting on May 4 at 11:45 a.m. ET will provide more information and updates on this project. 



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