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Mystery shopping and coaching as a form of audit and feedback to improve community pharmacy management of non-prescription medicine requests: an intervention study
  1. Jack Charles Collins,
  2. Carl Richard Schneider,
  3. Clare Louise Naughtin,
  4. Frances Wilson,
  5. Abilio Cesar de Almeida Neto,
  6. Rebekah Jane Moles
  1. Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Jack Charles Collins; jack.c.collins{at}


Objectives To determine whether repeated mystery shopping visits with feedback improve pharmacy performance over nine visits and to determine what factors predict an appropriate outcome.

Design Prospective, parallel, repeated intervention, repeated measures mystery shopping (pseudopatient) design.

Setting Thirty-six community pharmacies in metropolitan Sydney, Australia in March–October 2015.

Participants Sixty-one University of Sydney pharmacy undergraduates acted as mystery shoppers. Students enrolled in their third year of Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2015 were eligible to participate. Any community pharmacy in the Sydney metropolitan region was eligible to take part and was selected through convenience sampling.

Intervention Repeated mystery shopping with immediate feedback and coaching.

Outcome measures Outcome for each given scenario (appropriate or not) and questioning scores for each interaction.

Results Five hundred and twenty-one visits were analysed, of which 54% resulted in an appropriate outcome. Questioning scores and the proportion of interactions resulting in an appropriate outcome significantly improved over time (P<0.001). Involvement of pharmacists, visit number, increased questioning score and the prescribed scenario were predictors of an appropriate outcome (P=0.008, P=0.022, P<0.001 and P<0.001, respectively). Interactions involving a pharmacist had greater scores than those without (P<0.001).

Conclusions Repeated mystery shopping visits with feedback were associated with improved pharmacy performance over time. Future work should focus on the role of non-pharmacist staff and design interventions accordingly.

  • pharmacy
  • simulated patient
  • community pharmacy
  • minor ailment
  • nonprescription medicine

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  • Contributors CRS, ACdAN and RJM conceived the study design. CRS, FW and RJM coordinated the study. JCC, CRS, FW, ACdAN and RJM trained students. FW designed scenarios. JCC and CLN completed data collection and data entry. JCC, CRS and RJM conducted data analysis and interpretation of results. JCC drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript for submission.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (grant number SD14-4207); the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales (grant number G176927) and Alphapharm Pty Ltd (grant number G176862).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data available.

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