A SURVEY conducted through MJA InSight suggests many doctors regard pharmacists as retailers who accurately dispense medicines.
About two-thirds of doctors who responded to the survey did not see pharmacists having any other role in primary health care.
The survey, conducted by Mr Rollo Manning, a former pharmacist who is now a pharmacy and public relations consultant, asked MJA InSight readers six questions about their perceptions of pharmacists.
Mr Manning invited readers to complete the survey as part of a Comment article he wrote on the role of pharmacists in primary health care. (1)
He said he wanted to do the survey because little had been done to gauge how other health professionals viewed pharmacists.
Most surveys measured the standing of pharmacists with the general public, Mr Manning said.
There were 104 responses to Mr Manning’s survey, including 55 doctors, 24 allied health professionals, eight nurses and one allied health worker.
The survey found about two-thirds of doctors (36/55) did not believe pharmacists had a body of knowledge to contribute to primary health care.
Of these, 24 saw pharmacists as owners of a retail outlet, seven saw them as providing medicines properly labelled and recorded and five said they rarely had contact with a pharmacist.
Only 15 of the 55 doctors regarded pharmacists as health professionals contributing to primary health care.
Of all respondents, most thought a career in pharmacy was in the middle of the health professional spectrum. However, 19 doctors put pharmacy near the bottom of health professions.
On the question of how respondents rated the value of pharmacists’ contribution to positive patient outcomes, 42 of the 55 doctors ticked “not much”, “low” or “could be more”. No doctors rated the pharmacists’ contribution as “high”.
Many doctors (34/55) believed pharmacists should continue what they were doing — supplying medicines that were accurately dispensed, recorded and labelled.
However, nurses were unanimous in supporting pharmacists having a wider role in primary health care.
Only one doctor supported the idea of pharmacists having a legal right to prescribe Schedule 4 drugs.
Mr Manning said it was evident from the survey that if pharmacists wanted a wider role in primary health care, they must demonstrate to doctors what that contribution would be.
Posted 17 January 2011