Core competencies for Australian pharmacists when supplying prescribed opioids: a modified Delphi study Academic Article uri icon


  • Background In the past decade, there has been an increase in prescription opioid related harms. These include dependence, non-fatal and fatal overdose. Pharmacists play a an important┬árole in safe opioid supply. As most opioids are supplied through pharmacies, pharmacists are in a prime position to reduce harms associated with opioid use. Development of specific core competencies for pharmacists may facilitate consistent and safer opioid supply. Objective To reach consensus on which competency items identified by the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada's Opioid Working Group are considered core competencies for Australian pharmacists in opioid supply and assess expert pharmacists' perceptions of how well these competencies are currently met by practicing pharmacists. Setting Expert pharmacists in the area of opioid supply from across Australia. Method A series of questionnaires were presented to Australian opioid expert pharmacists via a modified Delphi study, with the aim to reach consensus on which items should be considered competencies for opioid supply by Australian pharmacists. Items were rated on a 6-point Likert scale and analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences┬« (SPSS). Participants were also asked to rate how well they perceived that currently practicing pharmacists met each of these competency items. Main outcome measure Consensus on competency items for pharmacists when supplying prescribed opioids. Results All competency items presented to participants reached immediate agreement. When rating whether participants perceived currently practicing pharmacists met these competencies, results were variable. The competencies that participants rated practicing pharmacist met to a higher degree reflected knowledge and skills items that can be applied to all medications and were not opioid specific. The lower rated competencies appeared to be related to newer or more complex or specialised areas of opioid supply. Conclusion There was strong agreement by participants on what should be considered core competencies for Australian pharmacists in opioid supply. Given the large number of items identified, further research may help determine priorities for training and education.

publication date

  • 2020