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The public trusts pharmacists but not to the same degree as other health professionals, survey shows

Some 87% of the 1,160 people questioned for the poll said that they trust pharmacist advice.

The public trusts the advice given by a community pharmacist but not to the same degree as other health professionals, shows a recent poll by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

Source: Mark Richardson / Alamy

Britain’s pharmacy regulator intends to use the findings of the poll to inform the development of its regulatory services

The public trusts the advice given by a community pharmacist but the degree of trust is lower than that afforded to other health professionals, according to the results of an IPSOS/Mori poll carried out for the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and published on 14 January 2015.

Some 87% of the 1,160 people questioned for the poll revealed that they trust pharmacist advice — this was similar to the proportion that trusts opticians, dentists and nurses but less than the 95% who trust their GP.

Some 12% said they do not trust advice from a pharmacist and 39% said that they trusted the advice a ‘great deal’ — which was lower than the proportion with this degree of trust in other health professionals (62%, 50% and 49% for GPs, dentists and opticians, respectively).

The survey found that trust improved if the member of the public was white, had visited a pharmacy in the past year or was aged over 65 years.

“We need to continue to get the message across to the public that they can trust the services and the advice they receive through pharmacy by highlighting our fitness-to-practise processes, our comprehensive educational and professional standards, and the transparency of our pharmacy inspection model,” says Duncan Rudkin, the GPhC’s chief executive.

The GPhC plans to use the results to help improve its understanding of the public’s perception of the profession and to inform the development of its regulatory services.

Respondents were most likely to say they would turn to their GP for advice about an influenza vaccination or to help them stop smoking, to have their blood pressure checked or for medicines advice.

Some 7% said they would visit a pharmacist for influenza vaccination advice, 15% for stop smoking advice, 6% for a blood pressure check and 40% for medicines advice.

The most common reason those questioned gave for their last visit to a pharmacy was to pick up a prescription (65%); 27% went to buy a specific over-the-counter medicine and 17% bought medicines when they did not already know what they wanted or asked the pharmacist for advice on what medicine to take.

Public satisfaction with services was high — 83% said they were treated with respect; 86% could access the services they needed and 88% thought that the pharmacy was clean and well maintained. More than three-quarters of respondents said the pharmacy staff were knowledgeable and gave them the information they needed. But 8% said the pharmacy lacked privacy.

Nearly 80% of those questioned had visited a pharmacy at least once in the past 12 months, rising to 82% in the over-65 age group.

Some 44% of people questioned said the last pharmacy they visited was a national high street chain, while 40% had visited an independent pharmacy and 15% had visited a supermarket pharmacy. People in Scotland and Wales were more likely to visit a high street chain than those in England who preferred to go to a supermarket pharmacy, the survey found. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20067576

Readers' comments (1)

  • Perhaps the trust is a little bit questioned in a pharmacist because we work in a retail business so the patients or customers somehow think that the advice we give might have a selling target at the end which to some extent true, we need to sell OTC and behind the counter products to keep the business running...

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