Views, attitudes and self-assessed training needs of Scottish community pharmacists to public health practice and competence

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To assess the education and training needs of community pharmacists to support the delivery of an expanded public health role. Setting Community pharmacy in Scotland.


Two focus groups of community pharmacists (n = 4 in each) in geographically distinct regions of Scotland explored issues of public health function, competencies and education and training. Findings from thematic analysis were used to develop a draft postal questionnaire. Following piloting, pharmacist managers from a random sample of 500 community pharmacies in Scotland were contacted by telephone to ascertain the number of pharmacists working in each pharmacy in the following 14-day period. A survey pack containing questionnaires for each identified pharmacist working in the study period was sent by post to the pharmacist manager in each pharmacy. The questionnaire contained items on: demographics; views and attitudes towards: public health; competencies for public health practitioners; and education and training needs. One postal reminder was sent 2 weeks later. Main Outcome Measures Main themes identified from focus group discussions; questionnaire response rate; views and attitudes towards public health competencies and education and training.


Four hundred and fifteen managers agreed to participate, providing 904 potential participants. The response rate was 25% (223/904). Most (n = 179, 80%) were aware of the term ‘pharmaceutical public health’. While a majority saw the importance of public health to their practice (n = 177, 79%) agreeing/strongly agreeing, they were less comfortable with the term ‘specialist’. Respondents viewed competencies relating to health promotion (n = 192, 86%) more relevant than surveillance (n = 70, 31%), risk management (n = 29, 13%) and strategic developments (n = 12, 5%). Responses indicated a desire for education and training with more than half (n = 121, 54%) agreeing/strongly agreeing that they had a need now, with 69% (n = 153) expressing a future need.


Results should be interpreted with caution due to the response rate. However, this research highlights the self assessed gap in competence related to pharmaceutical public health for community pharmacists in Scotland.

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