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Drug Information Needs of Health Care Professionals in Palliative Care: A Retrospective Evaluation of a Palliative Care Drug Information Service

      Abstract

      Context

      Drug therapy is an integral part of palliative care but pharmacotherapy can be challenging for health care professionals. Access to information is essential for health care providers to choose the best drug treatment for an individual patient. A drug information service can support health care professionals to obtain appropriate, unbiased information.

      Objectives

      To describe the enquiries to a palliative care drug information service. Objectives are to determine the information needs (including off-label use) of different professional groups and areas of care, to identify subject areas and drug substances for which there is a high need for information.

      Methods

      Retrospective evaluation of all enquiries to a palliative care drug information service within 24 months from July 2017 to June 2019.

      Results

      During the study period, 477 enquiries reached the drug information service, mostly from physicians (59%), followed by pharmacists (31%). Ketamin was the most discussed drug (11%), in general enquiries or corresponding replies mostly contained drugs targeting the nervous system, such as analgesics. Application techniques (26%) was the most relevant category, cancer pain (24%) was the most frequently addressed symptom. About half of the enquiries (48%) dealt with off-label us, regarding an application mode outside the license.

      Conclusion

      The information needs on palliative care pharmacotherapy seem to be particularly high among physicians. The demand for information in the area of application technology is particularly apparent and demonstrates a therapeutic gap in terms of availability of suitable preparations as well as necessary information.

      Key Words

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