Recent changes in education law and regulations governing the practice of pharmacy in New York State have extended the clinical responsibilities of pharmacists. There is limited information in the United States about physicians' opinions of these potential activities by pharmacists.
To determine the attitudes of New York State primary care physicians, who practice in a community setting, of community pharmacists as providers of these services, as well as further extended services.
Questionnaires were mailed to a randomly selected sample of 1400 board-certified internists and family practitioners chosen from New York State counties with populations of less than 251 000. Questions were structured to determine perceptions toward specific extended roles, pharmacists' dispensing of particular drugs without a prescription, the current role of pharmacists, and the relationship between the professions.
There were 630 (47.4%) responses, of which 594 (44.7%) were analyzed. Most physicians (93%) agreed that pharmacists should report adverse drug reactions and advise them on cost-effective prescribing (75.6%). Few (23%) believed that pharmacists should initiate a community pharmacy and therapeutics committee. Most responders (64%) agreed that pharmacists could provide, without a prescription, a 3-day course of a vaginal cream containing 2% butoconazole for vaginal candidiasis in nonpregnant women and a rectal suppository containing steroids for hemorrhoid sufferers (61%). However, few (5%) agreed with dispensing antibiotics for sore throats or a 4- to 6-week supply of ranitidine for nightly "point" abdominal tenderness that is relieved by food (5%). Most physicians agreed that pharmacists should provide their patients with information concerning the drug's dose and administration (92%), possible adverse drug reactions (89%), and possible food and drug interactions (97%). Few believed that pharmacists should provide screening services for their patients.
This survey suggests that most physicians support the current patient-counseling activities of community pharmacists. However, there was little support for limited prescribing by pharmacists, even within specific protocols. Increased information to patients was deemed desirable, but few physicians believed that pharmacists should provide health screening services.Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:1437-1441