Research Article

Pharmacy beyond the dispensary: general practitioners' views.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 27 June 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:1670
  1. J. A. Spencer,
  2. C. Edwards
  1. University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


    OBJECTIVES--To ascertain general practitioners' attitudes to an extended role for community pharmacists. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire to a 1 in 6 sample of general practitioners in the Northern, West Midlands, and Oxford regions (total sample size 1087). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Attitudes towards specific extended roles, pharmacist prescribing of particular drugs, the role of the pharmacist, and the relationship between the professions. RESULTS--744 questionnaires were returned in a usable form, an overall response rate of 68.4%. Attitudes varied, from a majority in favour of pharmacists reporting adverse drug reactions to a majority against their supervising repeat prescriptions (81% and 36% in agreement respectively). A similar range of attitudes was shown to pharmacist prescribing, from 84% in agreement with their prescribing nicotine chewing gum (deregulated since the survey) to 11% agreeing to their prescribing cimetidine. About half the respondents thought general practitioners should be allowed to dispense and a third that pharmacists "should stick to dispensing." 27% agreed that pharmacists were too influenced by commercial pressures to give unbiased advice. CONCLUSIONS--Most doctors would favour an extension of the activities of community pharmacists but worry about their role in screening and counselling patients and in prescribing. Despite relationships being generally felt to be good, there may be a need for better communication and cooperation locally and for proper evaluation of initiatives to extend the role of the pharmacist.