Making research common practice

18 December 2018

Dr Chris Freeman and Associate Professor Neil Cottrell, Co-Directors of UQ’s Centre for Optimising Pharmacy Practice-based Excellence in Research (COPPER), are on a mission to connect community-based pharmacists and provide them with opportunities to contribute to and participate in pharmacy research.

COPPER provides a platform for research collaboration between academics and community-based pharmacist networks, bringing together like-minded pharmacists, and providing access to peer support that enables exchange of ideas and information while supporting research training.

Dr Freeman said COPPER gives pharmacists a way to engage with and have input into developing research questions, research project design and results analysis.

“We want to foster a research culture in the pharmacy profession and encourage pharmacists to actively participate in current projects. COPPER provides pharmacists with professional development opportunities as well as allowing pharmacists who are interested in research to undertake projects within their own pharmacy environment.”

Dr Cottrell explained that having access to partner pharmacies who have expressed an interest in research means that academics can call on those practices to conduct particular projects without being a burden.

“Pharmacists are extremely busy on a day-to-day basis so conducting research tasks and hosting students can be disrupting when you’re trying to deliver optimum services to patients. Pharmacists who work in a hospital setting have research-based tasks included in their role and have access to support networks to assist them in carrying out those tasks. In community-based pharmacies this is often not the case so we want to connect with our colleagues in the community who are keen to take up research and provide them with the expertise to do it.”

COPPER aims to support growth in research, education and training so that community pharmacists can become independent to run their own research projects. Pharmacies registered with COPPER are connected via a Facebook group where they can communicate with one another and share ideas and information.

Similarly, students studying pharmacy at UQ have access to an invaluable and diverse network of pharmacies across a range of socioeconomic suburbs where they can go and collect data and carry out their research within an engaged practice.

“Our online training modules allow pharmacists to upskill and keep up to date with current approaches to practice research.

Similarly, by engaging current students during their studies, we hope to create a natural pathway for alumni to continue to contribute to and engage in research long after graduation.”

COPPER has been selected as the preferred provider of research and training by the Brisbane South Primary Health Network, recognition of its ability to facilitate large, complex research projects across a broad data set while providing support and funding to the research teams. A current study is analysing the medicine-taking behaviour of more than 300 patients, which wouldn’t be possible without COPPER.

Words: Jo Hickman