Patients satisfaction with free healthcare pharmaceutical services in Sierra Leone: a national cross-sectional study.

Springer Verlag
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, 2021, 43, (3), pp. 556-565
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Background Patient satisfaction is a critical construct of quality of pharmaceutical care in that it reflects whether a given service is meeting patients' expectations and consistent with their values. The government of Sierra Leone in 2010 introduced a free healthcare policy, which includes free pharmaceutical services for under-five children, lactating mothers, and pregnant women at all governments hospitals nationawide. Objectives The main objective of this study is to evaluate patient's satisfaction with the pharmaceutical services received from public hospitals implementing the free healthcare policy. Setting Four randomly selected public hospitals in Sierra Leone, one from each of the four regions, providing free healthcare services. Methods A cross-sectional design, using an interview-administered questionnaire, was employed in this study. Data were analyzed in SPSS, continuous and categorical data were computed descriptively. Responses to the open question were quantified and analyzed thematically. Adjusted and crude logistical models were used to assess factors associated with satisfaction, and significance was taken at p < 0.05. Main outcome measure Patients satisfaction with pharmaceutical services provided in public hospitals in Sierra Leone. Results Overall, 797 questionnaires were analyzed. The majority of patients seeking free pharmaceutical services were satisfied (n = 470, 56%) or very satisfied (n = 229, 28.7%) with the services they received. Pharmacy staff which includes pharmacists and pharmacy techincians demonstrated good communication skills while delivering services, but lacked technical details like; how to handle (n = 187, 23.5%) and store (n = 135, 16.9%) drugs and their potential side effects (n = 253, 31.8%). Low satisfaction was observed with the lack of private area for patients counseling (n = 474, 60.1%), and a convenient waiting area (n = 229, 28.7%). Respondents also thought the pharmacy was too small (n = 191, 24.6%) and with less than optimal lighting system (n = 120, 15.0%). Dissatisfaction was associated with college/university students or graduates [AOR: 0.211 (0.083-0.537), p = 0.001] and those with household incomes less than SLL 1,000,000 [AOR: 0.391 (0.155-0.987) p = 0.047]. Conclusions Patients were generally satisfied with pharmaceutical services received; however, infrastructural upgrades of the pharmacy like a comfortable waiting area and private counselling area within the pharmacy scores low in their satisfaction level. Improvement on the pharmacy structure, and motivated pharmacy staff with the right technical training will enhance the effective delivery of quality pharmaceutical care within the free healthcare.
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