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Mentioning anosmia improves how community pharmacies handle phone call requests during the COVID-19 pandemic: An audit study in Colombia


  • Andia, Tatiana
  • Mantilla, Cesar
  • Rodriguez-Lesmes, Paul
  • Criado, Leonel
  • Gomez, Juan Sebastian
  • Ortiz, Santiago
  • Quintero, Andrea
  • Rincón, Heiner
  • Romero, Steffanny


We conducted an audit study with 262 community pharmacies from seven municipalities in the Northeast of Colombia. In the study, a simulated client called and described a list of symptoms experienced by her brother, and asked the pharmacist for a recommendation. In our "common" condition, the symptoms were headache, sore throat, and fever. In our COVID condition, we added anosmia (i.e., the loss of smell) as a fourth symptom, allowing better discrimination with respect to other diseases. We find that mentioning anosmia induced a more cautious behavior among pharmacists. The probability that pharmacists recommend to register the case in the dedicated emergency line increased from 19.7 to 32.2 percent, whereas the probability that pharmacists make a prescription decreased from 69.7 to 51.5 percent. The seven selected municipalities were drawn from dengue endemic and non-endemic areas. Although we hypothesized that past experience with symptoms from the common condition would make harder to provide adequate recommendations in endemic areas, we did not find differences in behavior supporting this hypothesis.

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  • Andia, Tatiana & Mantilla, Cesar & Rodriguez-Lesmes, Paul & Criado, Leonel & Gomez, Juan Sebastian & Ortiz, Santiago & Quintero, Andrea & Rincón, Heiner & Romero, Steffanny, 2020. "Mentioning anosmia improves how community pharmacies handle phone call requests during the COVID-19 pandemic: An audit study in Colombia," SocArXiv s2z47, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:s2z47
    DOI: 10.31219/

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