Community pharmacies to deliver psychological support

People experiencing low mood in Durham and Teesside could benefit from a pilot study seeing community pharmacies deliver psychological support.

People experiencing low mood in Durham and Teesside could benefit from a pilot study seeing community pharmacies deliver psychological support.

David Ekers, TEWV nurse consultant, has secured nearly £500,000 of funding from the National Institute for Health Research to evaluate the effectiveness of training pharmacy staff to deliver psychological therapies to people living with long-term physical health conditions and low mood.

The Community pHarmaciEs Mood Intervention STudy (CHEMIST) plans to recruit 130 research participants for a randomised controlled trial. The trial will test the impact of pharmacy delivered interventions, compared to usual care delivered by mental health specialists.

David said “About 30% of the UK population have long-term physical health problems. In those that do, depression is between two and three times more common than in the general population.

“For most people with milder depression their symptoms will go undetected or untreated alongside physical health problems. This research will explore if we can reach people in the communities where they live and offer early health promotion and support.

“As eight out of 10 people live within 20 minutes’ walk of a pharmacy, we think they may provide an excellent public health setting for such an intervention, having a strong presence in poorer communities. 

“We aim to adapt our treatment and see if it can be delivered by suitably trained community pharmacy staff to adults with this common combination of problems. If beneficial in this setting the intervention could reach many people who otherwise would remain untreated. 

“Receiving support at the right time can prevent people’s health from declining further reducing the number of people who need specialist mental health care and avoidable hospital admissions.”

Sarah Daniel, TEWV research and development manager, said “We are delighted to have received this funding which supports our strategy to increase the number of chief investigator led grant awards the Trust receives and are excited to undertake this ground breaking research in health promotion.

“A similar intervention by the same study team (the Collaborative Care in Screen Positive Elders) showed good uptake in older adults in primary care when delivered by junior healthcare workers.”