Pharmacists Can Educate Patients on Summer Health Tips

Pharmacy TimesJune 2024
Volume 90
Issue 6

Staying updated on travel vaccines and applying sunscreen are examples of summer health counseling tips

Summer is here, and it is the perfect time for pharmacists to counsel patients about health tips through medication therapy management (MTM). From travel vaccines to sunscreen, pharmacists can provide advice for patients to have a safe and healthy summer (Figure1-6). Travel health is especially critical as measles outbreaks are occurring globally. As of May 23, 2024, there have been 142 measles cases reported in the United States.1

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Image credit: jakkapan |

Summer Health and MTM Pharmacists can play a vital role in ensuring patients are current on their immunizations before traveling, especially the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. One dose of the MMR is approximately 93% effective, whereas 2 doses are approximately 97% effective at preventing measles.7 It is especially critical for patients to make sure they are current on their MMR vaccine at least 2 weeks before international travel.1

One systematic review evaluated pharmacist-managed travel health services and their outcomes.3 A literature search was conducted in PubMed, Scopus, ProQuest, and Web of Science. There were 9 studies included in the evaluation that consisted of health services pretravel assessment, routine and travel vaccine services, travel medication prescribing or recommendations, and travel health patient counseling services.3

About the Author

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, PACS, is a drug information pharmacist and Pharmacy Times contributor who resides in South Florida.

The systematic review found that 94% to 100% of patients were satisfied or very satisfied with pharmacist travel health services.3 Most studies also reported recommendation acceptance rates of at least 75%.3 This highlights the importance of pharmacist involvement in travel health services.

Before traveling, patients can check country-specific travel health recommendations through the CDC website, which provides guidance such as recommended travel vaccines.4 Additionally, other health and safety tips, such as malaria prophylaxis, are discussed. Packing a travel health kit is also essential for summertime activities and travel, with prescription and OTC medications, sunscreen, first aid supplies, insect repellent, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and water disinfection tablets.4 It is also important to keep all medications in their original containers with labeling information, especially when traveling.

During MTM consults, pharmacists can also recommend exercise to enjoy a healthy summer. Recommend that patients get at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity, including aerobic activities and muscle-strengthening exercises.5 Exercise can also improve sleep and reduce anxiety.5

Diet and exercise typically go hand in hand; therefore, nutrition is also an important health topic to discuss with patients. Maintaining a healthy diet includes a variety of benefits, such as the following5:

  • Osteoporosis prevention
  • Improved muscle growth
  • Boosted immunity
  • Promotion of healthy pregnancies
  • Improved digestive system health
  • Promotion of skin, teeth, and eye health
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers

Safe use of sunscreen while participating in outdoor activities is another important summertime health tip.6 Advise patients to select a water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher that provides coverage against both UV-A and UV-B rays.6 Pharmacists should counsel patients to apply sunscreen approximately 15 minutes before heading outdoors.6 It should be reapplied every 2 hours but more often after swimming or sweating.6 Other tips for sun protection include seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, and avoiding tanning beds. These tips can help lower the risk of developing skin cancer.

One study evaluated the impact of the Skin Cancer Awareness Now program, a community pharmacy–based sun safety program in West Virginia.8 The study found that skin cancer knowledge and sun safety intentions improved over time. Approximately 41% of study participants reported that they plan on consulting their pharmacist about skin cancer prevention strategies in the future.8

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