International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1445–1456 | Cite as

Current perceptions of the term Clinical Pharmacy and its relationship to Pharmaceutical Care: a survey of members of the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy

  • Tobias DreischulteEmail author
  • Fernando Fernandez-Llimos
Research Article


Background The definitions that are being used for the terms ‘clinical pharmacy’ and ‘pharmaceutical care’ seem to have a certain overlap. Responsibility for therapy outcomes seems to be especially linked to the latter term. Both terms need clarification before a proper definition of clinical pharmacy can be drafted. Objective To identify current disagreements regarding the term ‘Clinical Pharmacy’ and its relationship to ‘Pharmaceutical Care’ and to assess to which extent pharmacists with an interest in Clinical Pharmacy are willing to accept responsibility for drug therapy outcomes. Setting The membership of the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy. Methods A total of 1,285 individuals affiliated with the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy were invited by email to participate in an online survey asking participants to state whether certain professional activities, providers, settings, aims and general descriptors constituted (a) ‘Clinical Pharmacy only’, (b) ‘Pharmaceutical Care only’, (c) ‘both’ or (d) ‘neither’. Further questions examined pharmacists’ willingness to accept ethical or legal responsibility for drug therapy outcomes, under current and ideal working conditions. Main outcome measures Level of agreement with a number of statements. Results There was disagreement (<80% agreement among all participants) regarding ‘Clinical Pharmacy’ activities, whether non-pharmacists could provide ‘Clinical Pharmacy’ services, and whether such services could be provided in non-hospital settings. There was disagreement (<80% agreement among those linking items to Clinical Pharmacy) as to whether Pharmaceutical care also encompassed certain professional activities, constituted a scientific discipline and targeted cost effectiveness. The proportions of participants willing to accept legal responsibility under current/ideal working conditions were: safety (32.7%/64.3%), effectiveness (17.9%/49.2%), patient-centeredness (17.1%/46.2%), cost-effectiveness (20.3%/44.0%). Conclusions The survey identified key disagreements around the term ‘Clinical Pharmacy’ and its relationship to ‘Pharmaceutical Care’, which future discussions around a harmonised definition of ‘Clinical Pharmacy’ should aim to resolve. Further research is required to understand barriers and facilitators to pharmacists accepting responsibility for drug therapy outcomes.


Clinical pharmacy Definition ESCP Europe Pharmaceutical care 



We would like to thank all experts, who helped to validate the survey as well as all survey participants.


The study was conducted without specific external funding.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11096_2016_385_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (316 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 315 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NHS Tayside and Division of Population Health SciencesUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK
  2. 2.Department of Social Pharmacy, Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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