To assess and compare the attitudes of primary care physicians and midlevel providers toward community pharmacists by surveying the frequency and perceived helpfulness of practitioner-pharmacist interactions, as well as attitudes toward traditional and expanded functions.
A sample of primary care physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners (n = 3,851) in eight western states was mailed a survey. The survey used 5-point Likert-type scales to assess the frequency and helpfulness of interactions with community pharmacists, as well as level of agreement with specific statements relating to pharmacists' current and possible expanded roles. Responses ranged from +2 (very frequently/very helpful/strongly agree) to −2 (very infrequently/not helpful at all/strongly disagree).
799 analyzable questionnaires were received. On average, midlevel providers interacted with pharmacists more frequently (median −0.23 and −0.51 for midlevels and physicians, respectively,P< 0.01). The helpfulness of interactions was rated positively by both groups, but the median rating by midlevel providers was higher compared with physicians (0.86 vs. 0.59, P < 0.01). Community pharmacists were rated most favorably on their traditional functions, including patient counseling and reporting drug allergies/interactions. Results were weakly favorable toward expanded functions, such as discussing therapeutic alternatives with patients and dispensing sample medications from pharmacies. Both groups agreed that community pharmacists are valuable sources of information, with midlevel providers indicating a significantly higher level of agreement (1.07 vs. 0.80, P< 0.01).
Most primary care physicians and midlevel providers support the current role of community pharmacists. Midlevel providers appeared to interact more frequently with pharmacists and indicated higher average helpfulness ratings for pharmacists. For pharmaceutical care to be realized in the community setting, a concerted effort by the pharmacy profession will be necessary to further demonstrate its benefits and feasibility. Midlevel providers may be helpful in facilitating this process.