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Patients' preferences for an increased pharmacist role in the management of drug therapy

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Objectives: This study investigated patients' preferences for an innovative combined prescribing-and-dispensing role for pharmacists in the management of drug therapies, compared to the more traditional dispensing-only role. Methods: The project was a cross-sectional study. A structured self-completed Discrete Choice Experiment questionnaire was administered to a sample of patients aged over 18 years waiting to see their doctor at the surgery. Respondents compared the proposed combined innovative service with both their ‘current’ service and a ‘dispensing-only pharmacist’ service. Analyses were initially conducted for all respondents and then repeated excluding those with constant preferences (i.e. those who always chose the same option). The setting was two general practices in Aberdeen, Scotland. Key findings: We approached 244 people and 204 returned an evaluable questionnaire. Everything else being equal, respondents preferred their ‘current’ service to either the proposed combined prescribing-and-dispensing role or a dispensing-only service. However, those without constant preferences, who were mostly younger, preferred the combined service, where a pharmacist both prescribed and dispensed. Conclusions: Patients value input from their pharmacists, but are resistant to change and prefer their current situation. However, younger people are more willing to trade between alternatives, and preferred the innovative combined prescribing-and-dispensing service. Changes in the pharmaceutical service could be supported by the public. The Discrete Choice Experiment approach is considered a useful tool for evaluating preferences for alternative pharmacy services.

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