Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 45–53 | Cite as

Independent prescribing by pharmacists: a study of the awareness, views and attitudes of Scottish community pharmacists

  • Johnson George
  • David Pfleger
  • Dorothy McCaig
  • Christine Bond
  • Derek StewartEmail author
Research Article



To investigate community pharmacists’ awareness, views and attitudes relating to independent prescribing by community pharmacists and their perceptions of competence and training needs for the management of some common conditions.


Community pharmacies in Scotland.


A pre-piloted postal questionnaire was mailed to 500 randomly selected community pharmacies in Scotland for completion by the ‘main pharmacist’.

Main outcome measures

Scottish community pharmacists’ awareness, views and attitudes towards independent prescribing by community pharmacists; perceived competence and training needs in relation to diagnosis and treatment of conditions in four therapeutic areas; perceptions about patient accessibility to medicines and safety of independent prescribing by community pharmacists; and attitudes towards becoming an independent prescriber. The items regarding perceptions and attitudes were subjected to Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to identify the domains. Univariate analysis was performed on individual items in the questionnaire against total scores on the identified domains; significant variables in univariate analysis were further analysed in linear regression models.


A response rate of 43.4% (217/500) was achieved. Despite expressing confidence in their abilities to become independent prescribers and feeling competent in diagnosing and treating those conditions listed in the questionnaire, clinical training prior to implementation of independent prescribing was regarded important by 211 (97.7%) respondents, while 191 (88.4%) regarded clinical training in drugs used for treating the conditions to be important. Gaining improved patient consultation skills and ability to communicate prescribing actions to GP practices were regarded to be important by 125 (57.9%) and 172 (80.0%), respectively. In PCA, three domains—confidence in independent prescribing, satisfaction with the␣current methods of supply, and requirements for the process of independent prescribing were identified. Practising more hours per week as a pharmacist (p = 0.01), supplementary prescribing training (p = 0.02), and involvement in Scottish Executive pharmaceutical care model schemes (p = 0.02), were found to be associated with greater ‘confidence in independent prescribing’.


High awareness of independent prescribing and perceived competence in diagnosing and selecting appropriate drugs for treating many common conditions were identified. Prescribing training with emphasis on evidence-based medicine, generic issues of prescribing and diagnostic and consultation skills is warranted before independent prescribing is undertaken by community pharmacists.


Accessibility Awareness Community pharmacy Independent prescribing Pharmacists Safety Scotland Views 


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This study was supported by the School of Pharmacy, The Robert Gordon University. We acknowledge the input of final year pharmacy undergraduates—Denise Byrne, Susan Dunne and Lesley Williamson—to data collection and processing and Scott Cunningham, Lesley Diack, Kim Munro and Alison Strath for their input at various stages of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B. V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johnson George
    • 1
  • David Pfleger
    • 1
  • Dorothy McCaig
    • 1
  • Christine Bond
    • 2
  • Derek Stewart
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of PharmacyThe Robert Gordon UniversityAberdeen, ScotlandUK
  2. 2.Department of General Practice and Primary CareUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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