A qualitative exploration of opinions on the community pharmacists' role amongst the general public in Scotland

Wendy Gidman, Joseph Cowley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective To understand members of the public's opinions and experiences of pharmacy services. Method This exploratory study employed qualitative methods. Five focus groups were conducted with 26 members of the public resident in Scotland in March 2010. The groups comprised those perceived to be users and non-users of community pharmacy. A topic guide was developed to prompt discussion. Each focus group was recorded, transcribed, anonymised and analysed using thematic analysis. Key findings Participants made positive comments about pharmacy services although many preferred to see a general practitioner (GP). Participants discussed using pharmacies for convenience, often because they were unable to access GPs. Pharmacists were perceived principally to be suppliers of medicine, although there was some recognition of roles in dealing with minor ailments and providing advice. For those with serious and long-standing health matters GPs were usually the professional of choice for most health needs. Community pharmacy was seen to offer incomplete services which did not co-ordinate well with other primary-care services. The pharmacy environment and retail setting were not considered to be ideal for private healthcare consultations. Conclusions This study suggests that despite recent initiatives to extend the role of community pharmacists many members of the general public continue to prefer a GP-led service. Importantly GPs inspire public confidence as well as offering comprehensive services and private consultation facilities. Improved communication and information sharing between community pharmacists and general practice could support community pharmacist-role expansion. © 2012 The Authors. IJPP © 2012 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)288-296
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


    • community pharmacy
    • inter-professional issues
    • medical colleagues
    • patient attitudes
    • primary care


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