Exploring health professional perspectives of expanded roles for rural community pharmacists: Application of role theory

Ms Selina Taylor1,2, Dr Alice Cairns1,2, Professor  Beverley  Glass2,1

1Centre For Rural And Remote Health, Mount Isa, Australia, 2James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Pharmaceutical care has progressed the pharmacy profession from a primary focus on medication supply to optimised and individualised drug therapy for patients. An extension of pharmaceutical care to expanded pharmacy practice will expectedly challenge the perspectives that other health professionals have about the role of the pharmacist. Twenty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore rural and remote health professionals’ perceptions of an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists. The philosophical perspective of role theory connected five role theory categories, role ambiguity, role conflict, role overload, role identity and role insufficiency. These themes were applied to the data.  Uncertainty of the boundaries between the traditional compared to that of the expanded roles of the pharmacist were identified in the interviews. Role conflict resulting from a perceived lack of accountability by pharmacists was identified and found to negatively impact collaborative opportunities between pharmacists and other health professionals. Perceived existing role insufficiency and role overload of community pharmacists were expressed as pharmacists were described as too busy to provide standard services, and thus did not have the capacity to deliver expanded services. Suggestions of pharmacists providing innovative models of care with an expanded scope of practice raised concerns linked to role conflict and role identity. This study acknowledges the importance of developing strategies to address concerns identified by the application of role theory to ensure that expanded pharmacy practice can evolve to improve access to health services and health outcomes for rural and remote Australians.


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