Why is this study being conducted?

Complementary and alternative medicines are extremely popular amongst Australians. Retail pharmacies are one of the main suppliers of these medicines yet little is known about how they are integrated into professional practice.

The study will investigate customer, pharmacist and pharmacy assistant perceptions, opinions and behaviours regarding complementary and alternative medicines and may identify unmet needs, interests or areas of concern which can be addressed in future. Ultimately, the study will provide information which may be used to improve pharmacy practice.


Who is conducting the study?

The Principal Investigator of the study is Professor Michael Dooley and the research team consists of :

  • Dr Lesley Braun (Monash University)
  • Ms Susan Poole (Monash University)
  • Dr Evelin Tiralongo (Griffith University)
  • Dr Jenny Wilkinson (Charles Sturt University)
  • Mr Michael Bailey (The Alfred)
  • Ms Ondine Spitzer (The Alfred)
  • Ms Jaqueline Smart (The Alfred)

Who is funding the study?

The project is being funded by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and supported by the Department of Health and Ageing as part of the fourth community pharmacy agreement.


How will the study collect information?

The study will collect information in 3 phases

  • Phase 1: Customer surveys
    Over 1000 customers attending one of the participating pharmacies in metropolitan Melbourne, New South Wales or Queensland will be randomly selected and invited to participate by a research assistant. 

  • Phase 2: Pharmacy focus groups

  • Phase 3: Pharmacist and pharmacy assistant survey
    Registered pharmacists and pharmacy assistants will be invited to participate in an online survey. The link to the survey will be available on this web page from December 2008 - March 2009.

At each stage, a pharmacy advisory group will provide advice to the research group.


What are the benefits associated with participation in the study?

This study is important to the pharmacy profession as it aims to improve quality use of medicines in relation to complementary and alternative medicines. Eventually this will lead to improved patient care and greater professional satisfaction.


How are pharmacies selected for participation?

Pharmacies have been selected by location and type. This means research assistants will visit banner group and independent pharmacies, stores in shopping centres, shopping strips and attached to medical clinics.


What are we asking pharmacies to do?

All we need is permission for our research assistant to spend one day in the store. They will invite customers to participate in the study so we do not require pharmacy staff to do anything. Of course, any support that staff can provide would be welcome.


Who can answer the customer survey?

Only customers in selected pharmacies in metropolitan Melbourne, rural New South Wales and Queensland will be invited to participate in the study by one of our research assistants.

They may be given a paper copy of the survey with a reply paid envelope or be asked to give their answers to the research assistant on the day. The customer survey will be distributed between August - September 2008.

We want to gather information from all types of customers, not just those interested in complementary and alternative medicines.


Who can answer the pharmacist and pharmacy assistant survey?

Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants will be selected and then invited by researchers to participate. This survey will be internet-based and must be answered by using a computer with an internet connection.

The link to the survey will be available on this web page from December 2008 - March 2009.

Because of the methodology of data collection; we are not obtaining written informed consent and will assume that people who complete the survey are giving their consent.


Is the study approved by an ethics committee?


The Human Research Ethics Committee of the Alfred hospital, Melbourne, Victoria has given approval for the research.

If you have any complaints about any aspect of the project, the way it is being conducted or have any questions about being a participant, then you may contact: 

Ms Rowan Frew
Ethics Manager
Alfred Research and Ethics Unit
Telephone: (03) 9076 3848 


Whom should I contact if I have any questions?

If you have any questions or queries regarding the research study and/or its procedures please do not hesitate to contact Dr Lesley Braun


When will the link to the pharmacist and pharmacy assistant survey be available?

The Link to the Pharmacist and Pharmacy Assistant Survey will be available in December 2008.