Community pharmacists and their staff have the potential to contribute to antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). However, their barriers and opportunities are not well understood. The aim was to investigate the experiences and perceptions of community pharmacists and their teams around AMS to inform intervention development.
Interviews and focus groups were used to explore the views of pharmacists, pharmacy staff, general practitioners (GPs), members of pharmacy organisations and commissioners. The questioning schedule was developed using the Theoretical Domains Framework which helped inform recommendations to facilitate AMS in community pharmacy.
8 GPs, 28 pharmacists, 13 pharmacy staff, 6 representatives from pharmacy organisations in England and Wales, and 2 local stakeholders participated.
Knowledge and skills both facilitated or hindered provision of self-care and compliance advice by different grades of pharmacy staff. Some staff were not aware of the impact of giving self-care and compliance advice to help control antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The pharmacy environment created barriers to AMS; this included lack of time of well-qualified staff leading to misinformation from underskilled staff to patients about the need for antibiotics or the need to visit the GP, this was exacerbated by lack of space. AMS activities were limited by absent diagnoses on antibiotic prescriptions.
Several pharmacy staff felt that undertaking patient examinations, questioning the rationale for antibiotic prescriptions and performing audits would allow them to provide more tailored AMS advice.
Interventions are required to overcome a lack of qualified staff, time and space to give patients AMS advice. Staff need to understand how self-care and antibiotic compliance advice can help control AMR. A multifaceted educational intervention including information for staff with feedback about the advice given may help. Indication for a prescription would enable pharmacists to provide more targeted antibiotic advice. Commissioners should consider the pharmacists’ role in examining patients, and giving advice about antibiotic prescriptions.