Objective: To explore the relationship between pharmacists' tenure in the community setting and their moral reasoning abilities.
Design: Systematic random sample design.
Setting: A large southeastern city in the United States.
Participants: 450 independent and chain community pharmacists identified from the state board of pharmacy list of licensed community pharmacists.
Interventions: A mailed questionnaire that included a well-known moral reasoning instrument and collected demographic information.
Main outcome measures: Moral Reasoning abilities and tenure of community pharmacists.
Results: As a group, community pharmacists with greater years of tenure in community practice scored significantly lower on moral reasoning than those pharmacists with fewer years of tenure (p=0.016).
Conclusion: Four plausible explanations for the results are given including: a) a selection of lower ethical reasoners and/or an exodus of higher ethical reasoners from the community setting; b) a retrogression in the moral reasoning skills as community pharmacists obtain tenure in this setting; c) differences between the low and high moral reasoning groups may be due to a cohort effect; and d) the obtained practitioner sample may not have been representative of the population of community pharmacists.