Background: Community pharmacies and hospitals are the two main professional areas for pharmacists. There is currently a lack of comparison of pharmacists working in these two distinct settings in relation to an expanded prescribing role.
Objective: To compare the attitudes of hospital and community pharmacists regarding an expanded prescribing role. Setting Australian pharmacists.
Methods: A self-administered postal survey was used to collect the data. Data analysis was performed using SPSS ® v19. Kendall's tau-c test was used to compare the mean values between categorical variables (i.e. hospital or community pharmacists) and continuous variables measuring attitudes on a Likert scale (i.e. reasons in favour and barriers of pharmacist prescribing, preferred therapeutic areas of prescribing and prescribing models). A Chi square test was used to analyse categorical variables (i.e. demographics).
Main outcome measure: The opinion of hospital and community pharmacists regarding an expanded prescribing role.
Results: A response rate of 40.4 % was achieved (1,049/2,592). Where significant differences were located, community pharmacists were more supportive of all proffered potential reasons in favour of pharmacist prescribing (p < 0.05) whereas hospital pharmacists were more in agreement with all suggested barriers to such a role (p < 0.05). In a supplementary (collaborative) prescribing model, hospital pharmacists were more confident than community pharmacists in prescribing for heart failure (p < 0.001) and anticoagulant therapies (p = 0.004). In an independent prescribing model hospital pharmacists were more supportive of prescribing anticoagulant therapies (p = 0.002). Significant differences were found between the two groups in relation to their support for independent prescribing (p = 0.020) and extension of the emergency supply 3 days rule to 30 days (p = 0.011).
Conclusion: This study suggests that there are differences between hospital and community pharmacists in what they regard as potential reasons in favour of an expanded pharmacist prescribing role, perceived barriers to such a role and whether to prescribe independently of doctors. Hospital pharmacists' attitudinal differences in terms of support for certain therapeutic areas of prescribing reflects probably their existing active role in clinical decision making processes in patients who are often seriously ill.