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Do pharmacists' opinions affect their decision to dispense or recommend a visit to a doctor?

Francisco Caamaño-Isorna, Agustin Montes, Bahi Takkouche, J J Gestal-Otero
Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety 2005, 14 (9): 659-64

PURPOSE: To assess the relation between the pharmacists' opinions and the decision to dispense drugs without medical prescription and to recommend a visit to a doctor.

METHODS: We carried out a cohort study on a sample of 166 pharmacists in North-West Spain. Pharmacists' opinions on prescription practice of the doctors, on pharmacists' qualification to dispense drugs without medical prescription, on their responsibility about dispensed drugs, on clients' qualification for self-medication, and pharmacists' perception of their work were collected through a personal interview. Dispensing and the recommendation to the patient to visit their doctor were measure in the follow-up. We constructed logistic regression models.

RESULTS: The response rate to the first questionnaire was 98.8% and the participation rate in the follow-up was 60%. Pharmacists who considered that doctors prescribed excessively were less likely to dispense without medical prescription (OR = 0.48) and to send the client to the doctor more often (OR = 2.33). On the other hand, those who considered themselves to be capable to dispense without prescription do so frequently (OR = 1.24). A major appreciation of the pharmacist as a health educator was associated with a higher dispensing (OR = 3.81). Pharmacists who considered that customers' qualification for self-medication was good recommended, more frequently visiting a doctor (OR = 1.58).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the pharmacists' opinions are associated with their practice of counseling. Therefore, any program designed with the purpose of changing dispensing habits of the pharmacists should identify and take into account their opinions.


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