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Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, the reader will be able to

  • Develop strategies to overcome the impediments that prevent pharmacists from providing effective responses and recommendations.

  • Outline the steps that are necessary to identify the actual drug information needs of the requestor.

  • List and describe the four critical factors that should be considered and systematically addressed when formulating a response.

  • Define analysis and synthesis, and describe their applications in the process of formulating responses and recommendations.

  • List the elements and characteristics of effective responses to medication-related queries.

Key Concepts

  1. Rational pharmacotherapy can be promoted by ensuring that drug information is correctly interpreted and appropriately applied.

  2. The absence of sufficient background information and pertinent patient data can greatly impair the process of information synthesis and the ability to formulate effective responses.

  3. Critical information that defines the problem and elucidates the context of the question is not readily volunteered but must be expertly elicited.

  4. Providing responses and offering recommendations without knowledge of pertinent patient information, the context of the request, or how the information will be applied can be detrimental.

  5. Formulating a response requires the use of a structured, organized approach whereby critical factors are systematically considered and thoughtfully evaluated.

  6. Approaching a question haphazardly, or prematurely fixating on isolated details, can misdirect even the most skilled clinician.

  7. Responses to drug information queries often must be synthesized by integrating data from diverse sources through the use of logic and deductive reasoning.


Pharmacists are asked to provide responses to a variety of drug information questions every day. Although the type of requestor, query, and setting can vary, the process of formulating responses remains constant. This chapter introduces an organized, structured approach for formulating effective responses and recommendations.

As the medical literature expands, access to drug information resources by health care professionals and the public continues to grow. Yet many professionals and consumers lack the necessary skills to use this information effectively. ❶ Rational pharmacotherapy can be promoted by ensuring that drug information is correctly interpreted and appropriately applied. This presents an opportunity and a challenge for bona fide drug therapy experts who aspire to play a broader role in patient care.

Regardless of specialty or practice site, pharmacists with the responsibility for overseeing the safe and rational use of medications must strive to develop expertise in applied pharmacotherapy. Whether working in a community pharmacy, nursing home, outpatient clinic, hospital, or another practice site, pharmacists can apply their skills and knowledge for the optimal care of patients. Pharmacists should not be relegated to the role of information dispenser or gatekeeper, but they should instead extend their knowledge of drugs and therapeutics to the clinical management of individual patients or the care of large populations.


Pharmacists should recognize ...

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