Attitudes of community pharmacists to antibiotic dispensing and microbial resistance: a qualitative study in Portugal

Int J Clin Pharm. 2013 Jun;35(3):417-24. doi: 10.1007/s11096-013-9753-4. Epub 2013 Feb 9.


Background: The inappropriate use of antibiotics is considered a main cause of microbial resistance. This is an important public health problem. Community pharmacists have an important role in the management of drugs for outpatients.

Objective: Our study sought to explore pharmacists' knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and dispensing habits insofar as to antibiotics and microbial resistance.

Setting: The study was developed with community pharmacists in the North of Portugal.

Methods: Qualitative research in the form of focus groups (FG). Focus groups were conducted with 4-7 pharmacists, using a moderator. A topic guide was developed to lead the discussions, which were audio-recorded and transcribed. The study was carried out between December 2010 and March 2011 in the five districts of the Northern Health Region of Portugal (ARS-N). Pharmacists from different regions of each district were invited to participate in the study by an investigator responsible for the study. Participants were informed about the study and that sessions were audio-recorded to facilitate data interpretation. They signed an informed consent form before taking part in the focus groups. The Ethical Committee of ARS-N was informed of this study.

Main outcome measure: Pharmacists' knowledge and perceptions on antibiotic use and microbial resistance, attitudes related to antibiotic dispensing habits, and pharmacists' suggestions to improve antibiotic use.

Results: A total of 6 focus groups were conducted with community pharmacists (n = 32). Attitudes related to the problem of resistance were attributed external responsibility, to patients, to physicians, to other pharmacies, and to veterinary consumption. Some attitudes were identified that could lead to antibiotic dispensing without a prescription. These attitudes are complacency, precaution and external complacency.

Conclusions: Portuguese pharmacists perceive that antibiotic use and bacterial resistance could be improved, showing a behavioural intention to improve antibiotic dispensing habits.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Community Pharmacy Services / organization & administration*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing
  • Male
  • Pharmacists / organization & administration
  • Pharmacists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Portugal
  • Professional Role


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents