A segmentation analysis for pharmacists' and patients' views of pharmacists' roles

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Abstract

Background

Pharmacists' roles in health care systems are expanding. However, some patients are slow to accept and make use of this expanded role.

Objectives

The objectives for this study were to identify and describe segments of pharmacists and patients based upon their perceptions of the pharmacist's role in serving as an advisor on medication use.

Methods

Data were collected from random samples of pharmacists and patients in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. Overall, 1518 pharmacists (overall response rate = 47%) and 1278 patients (overall response rate = 42%) were surveyed from 1995 through 2010. Factor analysis was applied to a Counselor Role Orientation measure and identified three factors for use in segmentation analysis. The factors were: (1) Time Pressures, (2) Reliance on Physician, and (3) Pharmacist Restrictions. Segmentation analysis was conducted using a two-step cluster analysis with an agglomerative hierarchical clustering method and a log-likelihood (probability) distance measure. Descriptive statistics were used to describe identified segments.

Results

Cluster analysis identified four segments which were named: (1) All Low, (2) Time Pressures, (3) Reliance On Physician, and (4) All High. The largest segment for pharmacists was Time Pressures (45% of pharmacists) and for patients was Reliance on Physician (50% of patients). Composition of the four segments was consistent over time between the years 1995 through 2010.

Conclusions

The pattern of findings suggested a cycle of dysfunction in which many pharmacists, hindered by Time Pressures, do not provide patient care beyond the dispensing of a product. In turn, patients, relying on their physician for advice about medications, do not acknowledge the pharmacist as an advisor for medications. This cycle has reinforced dysfunctional behaviors and creates no motivation for either party in this dyadic relationship to change.

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