University researcher awarded fellowship to examine Māori experiences of pharmacist services

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington researcher Nora Parore (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) has received a Health Research Council (HRC) Clinical Research Training Fellowship to examine Māori experiences of pharmacists and the health system.

The project, He tono whakapiki ora: Whānau and Pharmacists’ knowledge exchange, will explore whānau experiences of pharmacists’ services, as well as pharmacist experiences of developing services, to determine whether the pharmacy sector aligns with the principles and practices of Whānau Ora models of care.

Ms Parore is a Māori Health Research Fellow at the University and registered pharmacist with 12 years of experience as a community pharmacist. She is also an executive committee member of Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā o Aotearoa—The Māori Pharmacists’ Association. The funded project is part of her doctoral studies.

She says research into pharmacy service development and policy for Māori is limited, and recent reports such as the WAI 2575 Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry, the New Zealand Health and Disability System Review, and the Pharmacy Action Plan 2016–2020 show more information is needed.

“Current literature tells us pharmacists are under-utilised and under-valued. We want to understand how and why whānau do or do not interact with pharmacists and pharmacies, as well as examine pharmacists’ perspectives on how services are developed, and what the barriers and enablers to innovation are,” she says.

“We know whānau want more from pharmacy services, but we don’t know exactly what. It isn’t simply about delivering the same service at the marae.”

Ms Parore is the first researcher at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington to receive the clinical fellowship, and one of only four pharmacists ever to receive the award from the HRC. Research will be conducted in Northland, where she has strong whakapapa and where her extended whānau live. She says the ultimate aim of the research is to reduce health inequities for Māori.

“This is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving health outcomes for Māori. Pharmacists are there to help people get the best out of their medicines, but we need to understand how they can best fulfil this role for Māori to ensure equitable outcomes,” she says.

“I hope this work will also highlight and raise awareness of the important contribution of pharmacists in wider health and wellbeing.”