International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 417–424 | Cite as

Attitudes of community pharmacists to antibiotic dispensing and microbial resistance: a qualitative study in Portugal

  • Fátima RoqueEmail author
  • Sara Soares
  • Luiza Breitenfeld
  • Ana López-Durán
  • Adolfo Figueiras
  • Maria Teresa Herdeiro
Research Article


Background The inappropriate use of antibiotics is considered a main cause of microbial resistance. This is an important public health problem. Community pharmacists have an important role in the management of drugs for outpatients. Objective Our study sought to explore pharmacists’ knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and dispensing habits insofar as to antibiotics and microbial resistance. Setting The study was developed with community pharmacists in the North of Portugal. Methods Qualitative research in the form of focus groups (FG). Focus groups were conducted with 4–7 pharmacists, using a moderator. A topic guide was developed to lead the discussions, which were audio-recorded and transcribed. The study was carried out between December 2010 and March 2011 in the five districts of the Northern Health Region of Portugal (ARS-N). Pharmacists from different regions of each district were invited to participate in the study by an investigator responsible for the study. Participants were informed about the study and that sessions were audio-recorded to facilitate data interpretation. They signed an informed consent form before taking part in the focus groups. The Ethical Committee of ARS-N was informed of this study. Main outcome measure Pharmacists’ knowledge and perceptions on antibiotic use and microbial resistance, attitudes related to antibiotic dispensing habits, and pharmacists’ suggestions to improve antibiotic use. Results A total of 6 focus groups were conducted with community pharmacists (n = 32). Attitudes related to the problem of resistance were attributed external responsibility, to patients, to physicians, to other pharmacies, and to veterinary consumption. Some attitudes were identified that could lead to antibiotic dispensing without a prescription. These attitudes are complacency, precaution and external complacency. Conclusions Portuguese pharmacists perceive that antibiotic use and bacterial resistance could be improved, showing a behavioural intention to improve antibiotic dispensing habits.


Antibiotic dispensing Antimicrobial drug resistance Community pharmacists Pharmacist attitudes Portugal Qualitative study 



The authors wish to express their sincere thanks to Michael Benedict for reviewing and revising the English of this manuscript.


This work was supported by Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) grants [PTDC/SAU-ESA/105530/2008] and [PEst-OE/EGE/UI4056/2011] from the Portuguese Ministry of Science & Education, and Health Research Fund (Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria) grants [PI081239 and PI09/90609] from the Spanish Ministry of Health.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fátima Roque
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sara Soares
    • 1
  • Luiza Breitenfeld
    • 4
  • Ana López-Durán
    • 5
  • Adolfo Figueiras
    • 6
  • Maria Teresa Herdeiro
    • 1
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Center for Cell BiologyUniversity of Aveiro (CBC/UA)AveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Research Unit for Inland DevelopmentPolytechnic Institute of Guarda (UDI/IPG)GuardaPortugal
  3. 3.University of Beira Interior (UBI)CovilhãPortugal
  4. 4.Health Sciences Research CentreUniversity of Beira Interior (CICS/UBI)CovilhãPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Clinical PsychologyUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  6. 6.Consortium for Biomedical Research in Epidemiology & Public Health (CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública-CIBERESP)University of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  7. 7.Center for Health Technology & Information Systems Research (CINTESIS/FMUP)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  8. 8.Health Technology Research Center (CITS/CESPU)Vila Nova de FamalicãoPortugal

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