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Assessing Organizational Responses to AHRQ's Health Literacy Pharmacy Tools

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed health literacy tools for pharmacists to assess and improve their health literacy practices. AHRQ contracted with Abt Associates to execute a three-stage project to encourage the dissemination and implementation of these evidence-based tools into pharmacies.

Stage One – Dissemination 

Abt planned and executed a comprehensive dissemination strategy partnering with multiple pharmacy associations, reaching the universe of retail pharmacies in the U.S. The association partners include the American Pharmacists Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, HRSA Pharmacy Services Collaborative, and several others.

Stage Two – Study Implementation 

The case studies captured both the barriers to and factors supporting implementing AHRQ’s tools. They also summarized pharmacies’ implementation experiences. Abt conducted a comparative case study of eight heterogeneous retail pharmacies. We collected data from interviews, site visits, and documents, and analyzed using a cross-case analytic approach.

The case study findings indicated that leadership support, qualified staff and supervision, available change champions, ability to adapt the tool to their pharmacy, and receipt of technical assistance supported implementation in retail pharmacies. Barriers to implementation included limited support from leadership, prioritization of other pharmacy activities – such as patient care, a lack of qualified or available staff, and the burdensomeness of the tool. The research found AHRQ’s tools to be well-designed to support the role that colleges of pharmacy play in addressing health literacy practices in pharmacies.

Stage Three – Further Disseminate and Implement via Curricular Modules (Tools) 

The research found that colleges of pharmacy faculty, resident, and students were integral to the implementation of the tools. Therefore, Abt targeted this audience in the final stage of the project by developing – in collaboration with a Pharmacy Faculty Advisory Panel – a set of curricular modules on health literacy quality improvement. The modules consist of four PowerPoint slide decks and more than 15 active learning guides for use in class or in practice.

Finally, Abt proposed and laid out the dissemination plan to widely distribute the curricular modules to pharmacy faculty and others target audiences.

Read more about Abt’s work in health literacy:
Factors Affecting Adoption and Implementation of AHRQ Literacy Tools in Pharmacies