Cross sectional survey of the Scottish general public’s awareness, views on and attitudes toward non-medical prescribing

Derek C Stewart, Johnson George, H Lesley Diack, Christine M Bond, Dorothy J McCaig, I T Scott Cunningham, Kim Munro, David Pfleger

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22 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Nonmedical (ie, nonphysician) prescribing is a key development in the UK that has brought about many changes in prescribing policy and practice. Systematic research into the views of the general public toward such developments is limited.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the awareness of, views on, and attitudes of members of the Scottish general public toward nonmedical prescribing, with an emphasis on pharmacist prescribing.

METHODS: A questionnaire was mailed in November 2006 to a random sample of 5000 members of the general public in Scotland aged 18 and over, obtained from the UK electoral roll. The questionnaire contained items on awareness of nonmedical prescribing, levels of comfort with specific health professionals, and attitudes toward pharmacist prescribing.

RESULTS: Response rate was 37.1%. More than half of the individuals who responded were taking prescribed drugs. Nine hundred and seventy-eight (56.6%) were aware that trained health professionals could write prescriptions for medicines previously only prescribed by physicians. Awareness was associated with: increasing age (p < 0.001), having a health professional in their immediate family (p < 0.001), self-rated general health (p < 0.005), and a higher education level (p < 0.01). In logistic regression, all factors were retained as independent predictors of awareness (p < 0.001). Comfort levels for nonmedical prescribing were highest for pharmacists (median 4, IQR 3-5 [1 = low, 5 = high]), closely followed by nurses, and lowest for radiographers (median 2, IQR 1-4) (p < 0.001). While more than half of the respondents supported pharmacists having a prescribing role, fewer felt that pharmacists should prescribe the same range of drugs as physicians. There were concerns about lack of privacy in a pharmacy, despite acknowledging its enhanced convenience.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that more than half of the respondents were aware of nonmedical prescribing. A higher proportion was more comfortable with prescribing by pharmacists and nurses than with other healthcare professionals. Several issues relating to aspects of clinical governance were highlighted, specifically education and data handling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1121
Number of pages7
JournalThe Annals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number6
Early online date5 May 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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