New clinical roles for pharmacists: a study of role expansion

Soc Sci Med. 1986;23(11):1187-200. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(86)90338-2.


This study assessed the legitimacy of expanded roles for pharmacists with different status audiences. Pharmacy is a profession in transition and is characterized by considerable ambiguity and uncertainty concerning its status as a health care profession. Significant changes have occurred within the profession of pharmacy in the past few decades which have led to loss of function, social power and status. The response of the profession has been a movement toward a patient-oriented, clinical role for pharmacists. Hypotheses concerning level of support for expanded roles were derived from two conflict-based models of professionalization: a power model which focuses on conflict between professions and the central role of power in defining occupational territory; and a process model which focuses on conflict of interest and diversity within a profession and the development of 'segments' which struggle for control of a profession's direction. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaires sent to California pharmacists, physicians and nurses. Respondents were asked to indicate level of support for 20 role activities for pharmacists working in two practice settings (community and hospital). Pharmacy faculty were the most supportive of the clinical role activities, followed by practicing pharmacists, nurses and physicians. Physicians and nurses were more antagonistic toward clinical activities in the community than hospital practice setting, and were most antagonistic toward role activities which require independent judgement or autonomous action relevant to patient care on the part of the pharmacist. Differences were also noted in support for clinical role activities within the pharmacists' group. The effect of experience in working with a clinical pharmacist on support for clinical role activities is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists / trends*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Role*
  • Sex
  • Social Support
  • United States