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Community pharmacy interventions for public health priorities: a systematic review of community pharmacy-delivered smoking, alcohol and weight management interventions.


Brown TJ1,2,3, Todd A1,2,3,4, O’Malley CL1,2,3, Moore HJ1,2,3, Husband AK1,2,3, Bambra C2,3,4, Kasim A3, Sniehotta FF2,5, Steed L6, Summerbell CD1,2,3.


Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2016 Mar.
Public Health Research.

Author information

School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Durham University Queen’s Campus, Durham, Stockton-on-Tees, UK
Fuse, UK Clinical Research Collaboration Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Durham University Queen’s Campus, Durham, Stockton-on-Tees, UK
Centre for Health and Inequalities Research, Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK
Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK



The Department of Health has identified interventions to manage alcohol misuse, smoking and overweight, delivered by community pharmacists, as public health priorities.


To systematically review the effectiveness of community pharmacy interventions to manage alcohol misuse, smoking cessation and weight loss; to explore if and how age, sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic status moderate effectiveness; and to describe how the interventions have been organised, implemented and delivered.


Ten electronic databases were searched: Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts; Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature; EMBASE; International Bibliography of the Social Sciences; MEDLINE; NHS Economic Evaluation Database; PsycINFO; Social Science Citation Index; Scopus; and the Sociological Abstracts from inception to May 2014. There was no restriction on language or country. Supplementary searches included website, grey literature, study registers, bibliographies and contacting experts.


The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed. Any type of intervention of any duration based in any country and in people of any age was included. The review included interventions set in a community pharmacy and delivered by the pharmacist or the wider pharmacy team. Randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials, controlled before-and-after studies and interrupted time series studies were included. Data extraction and quality assessment were conducted independently for each study by two reviewers. Meta-analysis and narrative synthesis were also conducted.


The searches identified over 14,000 records, of which 24 studies were included. There were two alcohol, 12 smoking cessation, five weight loss and five multicomponent interventions that included pharmacotherapy and lifestyle changes in participants with diabetes mellitus, dyslipidaemia or hypertension. Nine of the studies were UK based; seven of the studies were rated ‘strong’ for quality. All studies were of adults. Pharmacy-based smoking cessation interventions including behavioural support and/or nicotine replacement therapy are effective and cost-effective in helping adults to stop smoking, particularly when compared with usual care. The pooled odds ratio of the intervention effects for smoking cessation was 1.85 (95% confidence interval 1.25 to 2.75). It is currently unknown which specific types of smoking cessation interventions are the most effective. There was insufficient evidence for the effectiveness of community pharmacy-based brief alcohol interventions. Evidence suggests that pharmacy-based weight-loss interventions are as effective as similar interventions in other primary care settings, but not as effective or cost-effective as commercially provided weight management services based in community settings. None of the five multicomponent studies demonstrated an improvement compared with control for anthropometric outcomes in participants with comorbidities, but they did show improvement in measures associated with the comorbidities. Very few studies explored if and how sociodemographic or socioeconomic variables moderated the effect of interventions. In two studies based in areas of high deprivation, where participants chose the intervention, the sociodemographic characteristics of participants differed between intervention settings. There were also differences in recruitment, attendance and retention of participants by type of setting. The evidence suggests that a distinct group of people might access pharmacies compared with other settings for alcohol management, smoking cessation and weight loss. There is insufficient evidence to examine the relationship between behaviour change strategies and effectiveness; or evidence of consistent implementation factors or training components that underpin effective interventions.


The information reported in the publications of included studies did not allow us to assess in detail if and how age, sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic status moderate effectiveness, or to describe how the interventions had been organised, implemented and delivered.


Community pharmacy interventions are effective for smoking cessation. Evaluations of interventions to manage alcohol misuse and obesity, set within the community pharmacy, are needed. The effect of community pharmacy interventions on health inequalities is unclear. Future research in this area is warranted, and trials should include the assessment of age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and contextual factors, and present analysis of how these factors moderate effectiveness.


This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42013005943.


The National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme.

Copyright © Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2016. This work was produced by Brown et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.

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