16th December 2016, Volume 129 Number 1447

Chloë Campbell, Caroline Morris, Rhiannon Braund

Clinicians routinely make decisions to optimise outcomes from the use of medicines. Given the rate at which new information is produced, sustaining a current knowledge base for this decision-making is…

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Formal medicines information services are available in six hospitals, but the full potential of such services is yet to be realised in New Zealand. A nationally coordinated medicines information service that encompassed current health strategy goals—patient driven, whole team integration and the use of smart systems—could provide efficient, effective support across the health system for clinical problem-solving, continuing education and knowledge translation activities, contributing positively to the safe and effective use of medicines.



To determine the current availability and role of medicines information services in New Zealand.


A 36-question online survey was used to collect quantitative data about four areas of medicines information service provision: structure, availability, users and governance. The pharmacy service leader of each of the 29 public hospitals was invited by e-mail to participate. If considered appropriate, another member of the pharmacy staff could be nominated to complete the survey on their behalf.


The response rate was 93% (n=27). All respondents accept medicines information questions from health professionals within their local hospital, with a large proportion (85%) also accepting questions from health professionals from primary care. However, active promotion of medicines information services is rare, and health professionals within local hospitals are the most frequent service users. Although six hospitals have a formal service with dedicated staff, medicines information provision by hospital pharmacists in New Zealand is predominantly informal.


The full potential of formal medicines information services is yet to be realised in New Zealand. Greater national co-ordination could enhance access to medicines information support and contribute positively to the safe and effective use of medicines across the health system.

Author Information

Chloë Campbell, PhD Candidate, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, Dunedin;
Caroline Morris, Senior Lecturer, Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington; Rhiannon Braund, Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, Dunedin.


We gratefully acknowledge the hospital pharmacists who participated in this study.


Chloë Campbell, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests

Chloë Campbell was involved in development of a database application for recording medicines information enquiries that is currently in use in six New Zealand hospitals.


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