Background: Community pharmacists (PHs) in England are increasingly providing a range of public health services. However, the general public view pharmacists as drug experts and not experts in health, and therefore, services may be underutilized.
Objectives: To explore experiences and views of 4 groups of participants, the general public, PHs, general practitioners (GPs), and other stakeholders (STs) on pharmacy-based public health services, and identify potential factors affecting service use.
Methods: The study was undertaken in a locality of North West England. Three focus groups were conducted with the general public (n=16), grouped by socioeconomic status. Fourteen semistructured interviews were undertaken with PHs (n=9), GPs (n=2), and STs (n=3). Discussions/interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically.
Results: All 4 groups of participants agreed that community pharmacies are a good source of advice on medicines and minor ailments but were less supportive of public health services. Six factors were identified affecting utilization of pharmacy services: community pharmacy environment, pharmacist and support staff, service publicity, general public, GP services, and health care system and policies. Crucial obstacles that could inhibit service utilization are perceptions of both the general public and other health providers toward pharmacists' competencies, privacy and confidentiality in pharmacies, high dispensing workload, and inadequate financial support. Networking between local health professionals could enhance confidence in service delivery, general awareness, and thus utilization.
Conclusions: Community pharmacy has the potential to deliver public health services, although the impact on public health may be limited. Addressing the factors identified could help to increase utilization and impact of pharmacy public health services.
Keywords: Cardiovascular screening; Community pharmacy; General public; Pharmacy public health service; Public health.
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