Knowledge and Attitudes of Pharmacists on Pharmacogenetics By Michael Osborne
Background: The incorporation of pharmacogenetics in the medical field is expected to cause a rapid evolution in the delivery of services by all health care professionals in the near future. Although many health care professionals have begun to predict the implications of pharmacogenetics on their practice, no national study has yet to address which health care professional(s) should be responsible for translating pharmacogenetic information into the routine health care management of their patients. Studies have also suggested that genetic and pharmacogenetic education in Colleges and Schools of Pharmacy is inadequate. Purpose: The purpose of the present study is to (a) indicate the current knowledge level of pharmacists in the area of genetics and pharmacogenetic testing; (b) assess the attitudes of pharmacists toward pharmacogenetic testing, and; (c) obtain the pharmacists’ perspective on the role various health care professionals, including genetic counselors, should play in pharmacogenetic testing. Methods: Members of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Section of Clinical Specialists were sent an anonymous, online survey. Results: Ninety-three pharmacists completed the survey. Results suggested that pharmacists are most likely to refer a patient undergoing pharmacogenetic testing to another pharmacist, a primary care physician, or a genetic counselor. Attitudes towards the inclusion of genetic counselors in pharmacogenetic testing were overall positive, with less than 20% of pharmacists indicating that they were uncomfortable or unlikely to utilize the services of a genetic counselor. On a scale of 1 to 100, the average score for the knowledge based questions was 69.55. Conclusion: The present study suggests that pharmacists may desire interaction with genetic counselors for their patients that undergo pharmacogenetic testing. Genetic counselors should provide education to pharmacists about genetics and pharmacogenetics, the services provided by genetic counselors, and the logistics involved in making a referral to a genetic counselor.