Background: Pharmacists in Great Britain can undertake supplementary prescribing (SP) after training at a higher education institution and completing a "period of learning in practice" in accordance with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) curriculum.
Objective: To explore SP pharmacists' early experiences of prescribing and their perceptions of the prescribing course.
Methods: A questionnaire was mailed to all RPSGB prescribers (N = 518, on June 1, 2005; 30 used in pilot questionnaire). Predictors of pharmacists starting to practice SP were identified in univariate analysis, and significant variables were further tested in multivariate analysis.
Results: The respondents (n = 401; 82.2%) were mainly female (270; 67.3%), had more than 20 years' experience as a pharmacist (123; 30.7%), worked in hospital settings (160; 39.9%), and focused on cardiovascular conditions (143; 35.7%) during their period of learning in practice. The median course satisfaction score, on a scale of 3 to 15 (lowest to highest), was 10. Practicing SP was self-reported by 195 (48.6%) respondents, 154 (79%) of whom had written a prescription. Ninety (58.4%) of the first prescriptions were written in primary care settings. Better patient management was regarded as the major benefit by 139 (71.3%) of those engaged in SP, while funding issues were identified by 71 (36.4%) as major barriers in implementing the practice. Lack of organizational recognition of SP was the main reason given (37; 18%) for those not commencing the practice. Independent predictors of those practicing SP included a longer time since registering as prescriber (p < 0.001); confidence of pharmacists in their prescribing abilities (p < 0.001); practicing in a setting other than community pharmacy (p = 0.001); and training in cardiovascular conditions or multiple conditions during the period of learning in practice (p = 0.005).
Conclusions: Pharmacists have made progress in implementing SP, which is perceived by pharmacist prescribers as beneficial for both patients and themselves. Pharmacists need more support in terms of infrastructure and integration into the healthcare team to overcome some of the barriers to implementing SP.