Objective: To examine the views of regular pharmacy clients on pharmacist prescribing and employ agency theory in considering the relationship between the stakeholders involved.
Methods: Computer assisted telephone interviews were conducted with 400 pharmacy clients recruited around Australia. Potential respondents were identified using a random number generation function in Microsoft Excel. Data were analysed with SPSS version 17 using one-way analysis of variance, principal component analysis and linear regression. The relationships between the main stakeholders involved were explored using agency theory.
Key findings: A total of 1153 answered calls recruited 400 consenting pharmacy clients. Most respondents (71%) trusted pharmacists adopting an expanded role in prescribing, however the majority (66%) supported this only after a diagnosis had been made by a doctor. Those who accepted pharmacist diagnosing and prescribing preferred that this was limited to pain management and antibiotics. Most respondents (64%) considered that expanded pharmacist prescribing would improve their access to prescription medicines, although those over 65 years of age were less supportive than younger respondents. Factors which contributed positively to clients' perception of trust in an expanded prescribing role for pharmacists were identified, and improved access to medicines was found to be the strongest predictor (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Most pharmacy clients trusted pharmacists adopting an expanded prescribing role, but preferred that this was limited to doctors performing the initial diagnosis. Agency theory would conceptualize the introduction of pharmacist prescribers, as disrupting the principal (patient) agent (doctor) relationship. Its introduction would best be facilitated by careful change management.