‘Atypical alliances’: The Potential for Social Work and Pharmacy Collaborations in Primary Health Care

By Christa Fouche,Rachael Butler and John Shaw, University of Auckland

Social work and pharmacy have complementary strengths, particularly in the area of medicines management

The growing prevalence of chronic conditions is a cause for concern globally, both in terms of its impact on the health of populations and also the strain it is predicted to place on health resources. There is a push to adopt more holistic and collaborative approaches to health care, and for the education of healthcare professionals to be reformed if these efforts are to be successful. A research project was undertaken in New Zealand in 2010–2011 aimed at exploring the perceptions of health care professionals on competencies in the field of chronic care.

This article aims to highlight learning from the project regarding the “atypical alliance” between social work and pharmacy. Based on this, the authors argue that, with the growing expectations for interprofessional collaboration, effective primary and community health care delivery is increasingly dependent on relationships between educators in different health disciplines, between health professionals-in-training, and between education providers and health organizations (pp.789-90).

The genesis of this article was a wider study on interprofessional collaboration and the potential alliance of social work and community pharmacy was initially unanticipated by the authors. As this emerged through the
analysis of the research data, the logic of the alliance became clear. The two professions have complementary strengths, particularly in the area of medicines management. The combination of the medicines expertise of pharmacists and the holistic approach of social workers could be better harnessed to improve medication-related health outcomes and reduce medication related harm (p.804).

Read more here

Full citation
Fouche, C., Butler, R., & Shaw, J. (2013). Atypical Alliances: The Potential for Social Work and Pharmacy Collaborations in Primary Health Care Delivery. Social Work in Health Care, 52(9), 789-807. doi:10.1080/00981389.2013.827147

For another article from this research project :

Fouche, C., Kenealy, T., Mace, J., & Shaw, J. (2014). Practitioner perspectives from seven health professional groups on core competencies in the context of chronic care. Journal of interprofessional care, 28 (6), 534-540. 10.3109/13561820.2014.915514


About socialworknz

I'm a social work researcher in Aotearoa New Zealand
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3 Responses to ‘Atypical alliances’: The Potential for Social Work and Pharmacy Collaborations in Primary Health Care

  1. instaphd says:

    Excellent post. I am a practicing social worker in the U.S. Who’s been able to develop innovative clinical programs through an alliance with pharmacy. I will read the article you reference.

    • socialworknz says:

      Thanks for your comment. My colleague Christa will be interested in any feedback.

      • instaphd says:

        I’m trying to get the publication right now through my university. I’ll be happy to comment when I read it. I’m working on a manuscript for innovative social work practice and I feel this may be a useful reference.

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