Local pharmacies have been rated the most trusted exponents of healthcare by global patients in the latest instalment of a prestigious survey
The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and Health, which analysed attitudes towards healthcare from thousands of respondents across the globe, found that people trusted local pharmacists ahead of other areas including health technology and pharmaceuticals.
The survey also found that local pharmacies are the most trusted healthcare provider, with a 79% rating from respondents across the globe.
Speaking at a round table discussion of healthcare professionals exploring the findings, pharmacist Sukhi Basra said the pandemic had helped further increase the trust patients had in local pharmacists.
“What we found during lockdown and a little before that is that patients were turning more to their regular pharmacist for advice,” she said. “When COVID hit, the only healthcare professionals that were readily available (for patients) was their regular community pharmacists.
“I think communities saw that. They recognised that one of the few people they could go to was their pharmacist and that had a tremendous effect on what we said being really listened to.
“Community pharmacists have built their trust on a day-today basis, what they do and how they respond to their patients’ needs.”
The study, part of the largest survey worldwide assessing trust in various sectors, found that 79% of respondents across the world trusted pharmacies. This was higher than hospitals (77%), private/government health insurance (67%) and pharmaceuticals, with 62%.
Pharmacists also scored highly (76%) among the healthcare professionals people most trusted to tell the truth about health issues and protecting the health of the public. Only doctors on 80% and nurses with 79% scored higher.
The survey canvassed the opinions of about 13,000 respondents in 13 countries across the globe, exploring attitudes to understanding and accessing healthcare. It also explored their attitudes in areas including how they seek information around healthcare and their trust levels in their chosen sources and what stops them accessing treatment they need.
Other notable findings in the study included plummeting trust in the media’s healthcare reporting since 2019 and the growing reliance on friends and family members and social media as a source of perceived reliable healthcare information.
“Community pharmacists are very important in educating those families,” Sukhi said. “As a pharmacist, you don’t necessarily have the patient coming in for medication. We will have the parent, the carer, the friend who comes in and they will have multiple questions. That advice gets spread around.
“I think (some patients) have access to information, but not context. I’ve corrected many a teenager, opened their eyes and made them think about their sources.
“If you reduce the accessibility of face-to-face community pharmacists then the younger generation will rely on social media. Context is vital and it’s vital that community pharmacists the face of clinicians.”
“Everyone deserves the knowledge to make an informed decision about their health,” she said. “When I see a patient, I will always say, ‘there are two experts here, me as the clinician and you. It’s then up to you to give them the information they need to make a decision.
“You may not agree with their decisions, but it is up to them.
“It’s about giving them information that is relevant and bespoke to them and leaving them to make their own decisions. By giving them that power, you are taking the burden off their shoulders as they feel you are letting them have the choice.”
The report concluded that the key messages for healthcare providers were addressing health inequalities, harnessing and incorporating the influence of family and friends and building more trusted relationships with the public.
The Trust and Health Study was part of what global communication firm Edelman says is the largest annual global survey of trust in the world. It analyses the trust levels respondents have in various institutions and factors shaping opinions.
“Inequality is creating a tale of two health experiences,” the Edelman Trust said. “With more people reporting gaps between how well they are taking care of their health and how well they would like to be, cost remains the biggest barrier to reaching those goals, with inflation being a factor negatively impacting people’s health. :
More information on the report is available via www.edelman.com