Developing the role of pharmacists as members of community mental health teams: Perspectives of pharmacists and mental health professionals

J. Simon Bell, Alan Rosen, Parisa Aslani, Paula Whitehead, Timothy F. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Background: People living with bipolar mood disorder and psychotic illnesses in Australia primarily access public-sector mental health care through community mental health teams (CMHTs). Adverse drug events are common among clients of CMHTs taking psychotropic medications. Objective: The study aimed to investigate and describe a potential role for pharmacists as members of CMHTs. Methods: Five study pharmacists were employed 1 day per week to work with 5 mental health teams over a 24-week period. The pharmacists conducted both client and team specific activities designed to optimize the use of medications. The pharmacists recorded their professional activities in diaries. Audiotaped focus groups were conducted with the pharmacists (n = 1) and mental health team staff (n = 3) at the conclusion of the study. Pharmacists' diaries and the transcripts of focus groups were thematically content analyzed. Results: Study pharmacists were perceived as valuable sources of unbiased and evidence-based drug information for both mental health team staff and their clients and caregivers. Mental health team staff particularly appreciated the provision of information about nonpsychotropic medications. Pharmacists' participation in clinical team meetings was used as an opportunity to present medication review findings and recommendations. Liaising between medication prescribers and dispensers working in primary and secondary care settings was deemed an important additional role; however, participating only 1 day per week was considered to delay rapport building and the establishment of collaborative working relationships with mental health team staff. Conclusions: Including pharmacists as members of CMHTs addressed an unmet need for pharmaceutical services among clients and staff of CMHTs. Pharmacists' contributions were welcomed by mental health team staff. The study raised the issue of whether pharmacists should be considered as essential and legitimate members of interdisciplinary CMHTs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-409
Number of pages18
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Antipsychotic agents
  • Community mental health services
  • Pharmaceutical services
  • Psychotropic drugs

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