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Purpose Results of a survey to characterize pharmacist prescribing in the Canadian province of Alberta are reported.
Methods A cross-sectional survey of a random sample of pharmacists registered with the Alberta College of Pharmacists was conducted. The survey was developed in four stages, with evidence of reliability and construct validity compiled. Analysis of variance and chi-square testing were used to compare prescribing behaviors.
Results Three hundred fifty of 692 invited pharmacists (51%) completed the survey, with 76.9% and 11.1% indicating that they practiced in community and hospital settings, respectively, and 12.0% practicing in a consultant role (i.e., on a primary care team or in a long-term care setting). Overall, 93.4% of the pharmacists had prescribed. The most common practices were renewing prescriptions for continuity of therapy (92.3%), altering doses (74.3%), and substituting a medication due to a shortage (80.6%). Twenty-three pharmacists (6.6%) indicated that they did not prescribe because they were on an interprofessional team, had a consulting role, or preferred to fax physicians to request orders. Pharmacists with additional prescribing authorization (6.3% of the total survey population) were more likely to prescribe to adjust ongoing medications (63.6%) than to initiate a new medication (18.2%).
Conclusion A survey showed that Alberta pharmacists prescribed in a manner that mirrored their practice environment. Compared with other groups, hospital and consultant pharmacists were more likely to adapt prescriptions, and community pharmacists were more likely to renew medications. Pharmacists in rural areas were prescribing most frequently.
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