Pharmacists and their customers: A personal or anonymous service?

Sahar M. Abu-Omar, Marjorie C. Weiss, Karen Hassell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Aims. To explore the existence and nature of the pharmacist-customer relationship. Methods. A qualitative approach was adopted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 customers recruited from two pharmacies differing in type and location: Pharmacy A, a multiple chain pharmacy in a more affluent area, and pharmacy B, a small chain pharmacy. Key findings. Customers' views differed according to the pharmacy from which they were recruited. Pharmacy B customers had a personal relationship with the pharmacist and used the pharmacy as a health care resource, while pharmacy A customers did not have a personal relationship with the pharmacist and used the pharmacy simply for medicine supply. Several pharmacy A customers had their own different local pharmacist whom they used for more personal advice and counselling. Both groups described disadvantages of multiple chain pharmacies. Consumerist behaviour was identified among customers whereby they preferred to control the provision of advice, assess it and act upon it. However, lack of information was mentioned by several interviewees, which suggested that different types of customers have different needs from the pharmacy. The pharmacist has therefore to recognise these different needs and to meet them accordingly to provide services, whether anonymous or personal, within their 'extended role.' While most customers viewed pharmacists as drug experts and considered managing minor ailments to be part of their job, they were less supportive of a more extended role in the therapeutic monitoring of drug therapy. This presents a serious barrier to pharmacists wishing to extend their role into a more patient-oriented and clinical domain. Conclusion. This study reinforces the importance of considering customers' views when policies and strategies concerning the development of the 'extended role' are considered. Recognising customers' views helps the profession to adapt and respond to changing consumer behaviour. Issues identified through this in-depth exploration of public perceptions of pharmacists have implications for the extension of pharmacists' roles into areas favoured and appreciated by customers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-143
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000


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