"Doctors who have worked with, and patients receiving care provided by, pharmacist prescribers are highly supportive and value their prescribing roles but research indicates that the service is not being optimised due to a lack of strategic direction and policies to support its place in patient care" said Professor Derek Stewart in his keynote lecture as the winner of the Pharmacy
Practice Research Trust (PPRT) 2011 Practice Research Award at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society`s Conference in London. Describing a study which investigated the views of pharmacist prescribers, doctors and patients on pharmacist prescribing implementation, he reported: "Although patients had little idea of what to expect at their first consultation with a pharmacist prescriber the vast majority were totally satisfied with their consultation and confident that their pharmacist prescribed as safely as their GP."
Derek Stewart, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences at Robert Gordon University described his research into the pharmacist prescriber in the UK which has been a key focus for the last five years. "Most pharmacist prescribers are active prescribers who perceive better patient management as a key benefit of their prescribing. Key themes generated from my qualitative research include expertise in pharmacotherapy, quality of medicines related information and benefits for the wider healthcare team."
Positive patient attitudes were a key finding of some recent research which indicated that pharmacist prescribers were considered approachable and thorough and most would recommend consulting a pharmacist prescriber. However, a small majority would prefer to consult their General Practitioner if they thought their condition was getting worse whilst a small minority thought there had been insufficient privacy and time for all queries to be answered.
"As the role of pharmacists has evolved to include non-medical prescribing, more emphasis has been placed on consultation and its importance to patient outcomes. It is recognised that communications skills are a central component of the clinical encounter." said Professor Stewart. "As a result our team has developed the Pharmacist Consultation Assessment Tool (PharmaCAT) to support and enhance the patient-centred care provided by pharmacists, and potentially other non-medical prescribers, through a potential use in assessment of their consultation skills. PharmaCAT was developed and validated based on the Royal College of General Practitioners` Consultation Observation Tool. Initial work indicated that although patients were being questioned about their health
beliefs their views and experiences these were not being explored further. Further research and development in this field are now being undertaken in collaboration with NHS Education for Scotland and an online version is being piloted."
Summing up, Professor Stewart said: "I am so pleased that my work has been recognised by this award. Pharmacist prescribing is dynamic and rapidly changing, making this a very exciting area of research. There are so many unanswered questions and we must provide robust evidence on which to base sustainable services, essential in the current political and economic climate. As a profession, we don`t seem to be really sure how we want to develop pharmacist prescribing and what we want it to deliver. My early research showed that although there was an initial high intention amongst pharmacists to consider developing pharmacist prescriber skills few went on to take the necessary training. Although a majority agreed that prescribing would improve patient care they strongly disagreed/disagreed that they have sufficient pharmacist or technical support to take it further. "
PPRT Chairman, Marshall Davies, who presented the award at the RPS Conference said: "Professor Stewart`s research into pharmacist prescribing from a range of perspectives including the pharmacy profession, policy makers as well as patients and public is both informing and having an impact on professional policy and practice making him a deserving recipient of this award."