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Keywords:

  • barriers;
  • benefits;
  • partnerships;
  • patients;
  • prescribing;
  • professionals

There have been widespread changes in society and the roles of professionals. This change is also reflected in health care, where there is now acceptance of the need to involve patients in decision making. In prescribing specifically, the concordance agenda was developed alongside these initiatives to encourage improved medication taking and reduce wastage. However the extent to which these partnerships are delivered in practice remains unclear. This paper explores some of the issues to be considered when preparing patients and professionals for partnership and summarizes the limited evidence of barriers to, and benefits of, this approach. Firstly patients must be given the confidence, skills and knowledge to be partners. They need information about medicines, provided in ways known to be acceptable to them. Likewise professionals may need new skills to be partners. They need to understand the patient agenda and may need training and support to change the ways in which they consult with patients. There are also practical issues such as the perceived increase in time taken when consulting in partnership mode, room layout, computer interfaces and record keeping. Health care professionals other than doctors are also expected to behave in partnership mode, whether this is as prescribers in their own right or in supporting the prescribing of others. Whilst much has been claimed for the benefit of partnership approaches, hard evidence is limited. However whilst there is still much more to understand there will be no going back to the paternalistic model of the mid 20th century.