Influences on general practitioner prescribing with particular reference to community pharmacy
Influences on general practitioner prescribing of drugs continue to be of interest and importance as cost containment becomes central to Government health policy. This thesis employs a plurality of research methods including quantitative and qualitative survey techniques for example, questionnaires, interviews and prescription analyses to investigate some of the factors which may influence GP prescribing such as information sources, hospital consultants and in particular the community pharmacist. When the use and influence of drug information sources by GPs was examined, the community pharmacist was given a relatively low rating as a source but a high rating, similar to that of the consultant, for helpfulness. Influences are needed to improve prescribing and reduce the incidence of iatrogenic disease for the benefit of the patient. The education and expertise of pharmacists and their familiarity with local prescribing habits places them in a unique position to meet the needs of local GPs. As 96.5% of the public always or nearly always take their prescriptions to the same pharmacy, patient medication records, now kept by 77.5% of pharmacies, provide a valuable check on the appropriateness and safety of patients' medication. The barriers to the pharmacist's greater involvement were shown to be suspicion by GPs of pharmacists' motivation, isolation of many community pharmacists, difficulties in leaving the pharmacy for domiciliary visits, residential home care and GP practice meetings. These barriers must be lowered if the pharmacist is to have a greater influence and involvement. It was concluded that changes are necessary in pharmaceutical education, staff training, organisation and remuneration. Some changes in the targeting of remuneration to the pharmaceutical care services provided and registration of patients with pharmacies would contribute greatly to these aims.