Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Incorporating Hypertensive Patient Education on Salt Intake into an Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Incorporating Hypertensive Patient Education on Salt Intake into an Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience

Article excerpt


Sodium intake and its direct relation to hypertension are widely cited throughout the literature. (1-3) As a result, the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services have published dietary guidelines that recommend restricting sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day in healthy adults younger than 51 years of age. (4) For hypertensive or diabetic patients, African-Americans, patients with chronic kidney disease, or anyone age 51 years or older, guidelines recommend restricting sodium intake to 1500 mg per day. Reducing sodium intake to recommended levels significantly reduces blood pressure by 1% in normotensive individuals and 3.5% in patients with hypertension. (5) Sodium reduction can significantly reduce the risks associated with a diet high in sodium, which include increased risk of stroke and other negative cardiovascular outcomes. (6,7) Although much of the population may be aware of the detrimental effects of a high-salt diet, many are not knowledgeable about recommended dietary sodium limits, do not use food labels to evaluate salt content of foods, and underestimate their own salt intake. (8,9) Pharmacists are in a unique position to provide patient education because of their accessibility and training, provision of which can help alleviate some of the issues related to high sodium intake and improve public awareness about salt and its negative health consequences.

Colleges and schools of pharmacy are responsible for educating student pharmacists on the importance of their role as part of the healthcare team. Experiential learning is an effective method of preparing students to provide patient care, and patient education is an integral part of experiential learning in colleges and schools of pharmacy. In 2006, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education established Accreditation Standards and Guidelines for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree that became effective in 2007. (10) Within these standards, pharmacy practice experience guidelines are explained. Participation in service-learning activities can impact student learning and development. (11-14) The purpose of these activities is to allow student pharmacists to interact with patients as practitioners, thereby gaining experience providing education, reviewing medications, and performing other professional duties.

Through the introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) program in community pharmacies, student pharmacists at the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy had opportunities to provide one-on-one counseling with hypertensive adults regarding sodium intake. Participation in the IPPE Salt Education Program was expected to change student pharmacists' knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes associated with sodium intake. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of this education program on student pharmacists' sodium intake knowledge and behaviors as well as attitudes toward dietary sodium reduction.


The Salt Education Program for Hypertensive Patients was developed for several reasons. First, most Americans exceed the daily recommended limit for sodium intake, (15) Which raises an important question regarding whether consumers are aware of sodium intake recommendations and the effect of sodium on their health. Second, because salt has a direct effect on blood pressure, healthcare providers should pay extra attention to patients with hypertension. (16) Third, patient counseling is a crucial part of the IPPE program and is consistent with Harrison School of Pharmacy's curricular outcomes and Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education outcomes. (17) Through this Salt Education Program, student pharmacists who had completed their first academic year were given opportunities to interview and educate hypertensive patients about salt intake and its effect on their hypertensive condition.

This program was conducted in the summer of 2012 as part of the IPPE program in community pharmacies. …

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