01/10/2014

ESTEVE AND AGORA SANITARIA BRING PHARMACISTS A COURSE TO HELP THEM IDENTIFY AND HANDLE CONSULTATIONS ABOUT LOW MOOD MORE EFFECTIVELY

60% of the people who approach their pharmacist in search of help complain of symptoms of low mood such as tiredness, irritability, sadness or loss of interest.

This course, entitled CONFÍA, is aimed at establishing a clear approach that will help offer personalised care and give these consultations added value.

CONFÍA (Pharmacy counselling and indication in mood-related consultations) is specially designed for pharmacists and pharmaceutical assistants and technicians.

"I'm out of sorts", "I don't know what's wrong with me", "I'm feeling down and I can't concéntrate", "I have trouble getting going in the morning",… are sentences that all point to a low mood, which affects 60% of people who visit their pharmacy. However, the symptoms are not always clear. ESTEVE and Agora Sanitaria, Platform for online training of the College of Pharmacists of Madrid and Barcelona, have created CONFÍA to help pharmacists identify these cases and handle them effectively. A training course online focuses on mood disorders and offers a very practical programme designed by experts in the field. The course will run from 3 November to 15 December.

The fact that people have more worries these days has led to more patients asking pharmacists about natural solutions to help improve their mood. Nowadays, two thirds of the people who seek advice from their pharmacist have some symptom related to a mild mood disorder, a situation which is completely reversible if handled effectively. This particularly affects carers and people who are experiencing a process of change or are under mental strain.

Sometimes there are no clear symptoms, but there are a number of particular causes that can be identified. As a healthcare provider who communicates closely with users, the community pharmacist can and should play a key role. Moreover, a recent study1 claims that half of the people who buy products for low mood believe that the guidance of a healthcare professional is important.

In order to improve the care provided by pharmacists in this area, ESTEVE, in collaboration with Ágora Sanitaria, has created CONFÍA, a course designed to help them identify the most common causes and symptoms of low mood by providing a clear, practical protocol. It will also help them recognise the patient profiles that usually present these problems, understand the general cycle of low mood in these people, present the available therapeutic alternatives and know how to distinguish which patients should be referred to their doctor.

According to Jesús Carlos Gómez, the president of the Spanish Society of Community Pharmacists (SEFAC) and a member of the scientific team that designed the contents of CONFÍA, "the pharmacist can play a key role in the early detection of mood disorders. Pharmacists are in a good position to receive such requests, so it is very important for mood problems to be dealt with by pharmacies, but for this to be effective, involvement and training are essential".

He also adds that "in recent years a greater many users have gone to their pharmacy with these symptoms of anxiety, despondency, stress, insomnia… looking for a dietary supplement to make them feel better". He says that the ideal supplement "should contain tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin that regulates mood and helps reduce anxiety, increase concentration, regulate sleep and generate a positive effect on mood".

José María Alonso, vocal medicinal plants and homeopathy, member of group COFB food supplements and course coordinator, said: "From the pharmacy we have a responsibility towards these patients, the ones who manifest discouragement and we offer a solution, and those who do not manifest it and that through our intervention, we can help to recognize their status, manage and improve it, and above all, the training is vital to get it right. "

A programme of topics specifically designed by experts

The programme of CONFÍA is aimed at community pharmacists and pharmaceutical assistants and technicians. It consists of a total of 5 different modules dedicated to Identifying the patient (most common profiles and consultations), Clinical aspects (a short physiopathological description of the central nervous system and mild mood disorders), Pharmacist intervention (action plan and treatment), Counselling and communication techniques when dealing with queries and Practical application.

The contents of the course have been developed by a scientific team of expert healthcare professionals and GPs.

The authors of the topics of CONFÍA are José Miguel Gaona, psychiatrist, medical doctor and medical psychologist; Jesús Carlos Gómez, community pharmacist and president of SEFAC; Rafael Guayta, scientific director on the board of the Barcelona Pharmacists Association; Eduardo Jiménez, community pharmacist, expert in communication and pharmaceutical management consultant; Gemma Tribó, community pharmacist and expert in nutrition, dietary supplements and pharmaceutical care; Enric Zamorano, psychiatrist and GP; and M. José Alonso, pharmacist and spokesperson on medicinal plants and homeopathy for the Barcelona Pharmacists Association.

1 Triptomax post test and the mood-enhancing dietary supplements market (Millward Brown, June 2014)

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