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Keywords:

  • focus groups;
  • non-medical prescribing;
  • Northern Ireland;
  • patient perspective;
  • pharmacist prescribing;
  • qualitative methodology

Abstract

Background

The drive for non-medical prescribing has progressed quickly since the late 1990s and involves a range of healthcare professionals including pharmacists. As part of a commissioned research project, this qualitative element of a larger case study focused on the views of patients of pharmacist prescribers.

Objective

The aim of this study was to explore patients' perspectives of pharmacists as prescribers.

Methods

Three pharmacists working as independent prescribers in the clinical areas of (i) hypertension, (ii) cardiovascular/diabetes management, (iii) anticoagulation were recruited to three case studies of pharmacist prescribing in Northern Ireland. One hundred and five patients were invited to participate in focus groups after they had been prescribed for by the pharmacist. Focus groups took place between November 2010 and March 2011 (ethical/governance approvals granted) were audio taped, transcribed verbatim, read independently by two authors and analysed using constant comparative analysis.

Results

Thirty-four patients agreed to participate across seven focus groups. Analysis revealed the emergence of one overarching theme: team approach to patient care. A number of subthemes related to the role of the pharmacist, the role of the doctor and patient benefits. There was an overwhelming lack of awareness of pharmacist prescribing. Patients discussed the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to their care and recognized limitations of the current model of prescribing.

Conclusion

Patients were positive about pharmacist prescribing and felt that a team approach to their care was the ideal model especially when treating those with more complex conditions. Despite positive attitudes, there was a general lack of awareness of this new mode of practice.