Management of drug interactions with beta-blockers: continuing education has a short-term impact

  • Annelies Driesen
  • Steven Simoens
  • Gert Laekeman
Keywords: Drug Interactions, Continuing education, Pharmacy, Pharmacists, Belgium


There is a lack of clear guidelines regarding the management of drug-drug interactions.

Objective: To assess the impact of an educational intervention on the management of drug interactions with beta-blockers.

Methods: The study had a controlled before-and-after design. The intervention group (n=10 pharmacies) received a continuing education course and guidelines on the management of drug interactions with beta-blockers. The control group (n=10 pharmacies) received no intervention. Pharmacy students and staff of internship pharmacies participated in this study. Before and after the intervention, students registered interactions with beta-blockers during two weeks. Information was obtained on drug information of the beta-blocker and the interacting drug, patient’s demographics, and the mode of transaction.

Results: A total number of 288 interactions were detected during both study periods. Most beta-blockers causing an interaction were prescribed for hypertension, and interacted with hypoglycemic agents, NSAIDs, or beta2-agonists. Pharmacists’ intervention rate was low (14% in the pre-test compared to 39% in the post-test), but increased significantly in the post-test in the intervention group. Reasons for overriding the interaction included limited clinical relevance, refill prescriptions, not being aware of the interaction, and communication problems with the prescriber.

Conclusion: An interactive continuing education course, during which practice-oriented guidelines were offered, affected pharmacists’ short-term behavior at the counter in dealing with interactions of beta-blockers. Continuing education plays a role in raising pharmacists’ awareness and responsibility towards the detection and management of drug interactions in the pharmacy.


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