Objectives The aim of the study was to determine the public's views on weight-management services, including pharmacies as a potential venue, and the extent of current pharmacy involvement in weight management.
Methods Two questionnaires were developed for face-to-face interview in one Primary Care Trust area: one for the general public and one for community pharmacists.
Key findings Interviews were conducted with 177 members of the public, 75% of whom had tried to lose weight. More had used over-the-counter weight-loss products than prescribed medicines. There was greater awareness of commercial weight-management clinics than of NHS-led initiatives. Leisure centres were the preferred locations for weight-management clinics, with dieticians as the preferred staff. Pharmacies and pharmacists were not favoured as sources of advice on weight management. The questionnaire was completed by 49 community pharmacists (75%). All except one dispensed prescriptions for weight loss and 38 supplied over-the-counter weight-loss products. For both, estimated supply frequency increased with increasing deprivation of the pharmacy's location. Eight pharmacies provided a commercial weight-loss programme and more than half had weighing scales.
Conclusions Opportunities exist for extending NHS-led weight-management services from community pharmacies, but further research is required into the public's expectations of services to support an increase in awareness and acceptance.