International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 704–710 | Cite as

Views of the Scottish general public on non-medical prescribing

  • Katie MacLure
  • Johnson George
  • Lesley Diack
  • Christine Bond
  • Scott Cunningham
  • Derek StewartEmail author
Research Article


Background Under UK legislation, suitably qualified non-medical professionals can practise as prescribers. Few studies have explored the views of the general public towards non-medical prescribing. Objective The aim was to explore the views of the Scottish general public on non-medical prescribing. Setting General community in Scotland. Method A pre-piloted survey was mailed to a random sample of 5,000 members of the general public in Scotland. In addition to the items on awareness of and attitudes towards non-medical prescribing, respondents were asked to ‘give any other comments, issues or concerns you have in relation to health professionals other than doctors prescribing.’ Responses were subjected to content analysis. Main outcome measures Key themes identified from content analysis. Results The overall questionnaire response rate was 37.1 % (n = 1,855) of which 27.2 % (n = 505) provided comments. Most were directly related to pharmacist prescribing (n = 312) while others referred to non-medical prescribers generically (n = 172) or other healthcare professionals (n = 79). Nine themes were identified: perception of knowledge and training; support for a limited range of non-medical prescribing; access to medical records; motivation and convenience; confidence, faith and trust; privacy and confidentiality; risks, controls and continuity of care; supervision and conflict of interest; communication and cooperation. Conclusions The findings identify support for non-medical prescribing but indicate the need for non-medical prescribers to engage more with the general public. The comments also provide insight into the challenges for non-medical prescribers, as they strive to fulfil their extended healthcare roles.


Allied health professional Governance Pharmacist Public opinion Scotland 



The work was supported by NHS Education for Scotland and the School of Pharmacy, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. We acknowledge the input of Dorothy McCaig PhD, David Pfleger MPH and Kim Munro MSc in study design; Marc Revel MPharm, Nathan Richardson MPharm, Jennifer Toft MPharm, and Laura Tully MPharm for data collection; Linda Adams for organisational skills; Amber Bowbyes for administrative support; and all members of the general public who completed the questionnaire.


Funding for this study was provided by NHS Education for Scotland.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie MacLure
    • 1
  • Johnson George
    • 2
  • Lesley Diack
    • 1
  • Christine Bond
    • 3
  • Scott Cunningham
    • 1
  • Derek Stewart
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Pharmacy and Life SciencesRobert Gordon UniversityAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Academic Primary CareUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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