Pharmacists have been granted prescribing privileges for minor ailments in several Canadian provinces. In an ongoing process of evaluation within one province, a random sample of physicians was surveyed for input on select aspects of the program. The objectives were to gauge the activity level involving minor ailments during medical appointments, the public’s ability to self-diagnose their situation, the perceived role and value of pharmacists involving minor ailment care, and the conditions of most and least concern within the program.
In a mail survey, 981 documents were mailed out to family physicians. A questionnaire to meet the needs of the study was not available, so one was created for this purpose.
Data analysis was based on information provided by 289 responders (response rate of 30.1%). Of those responding, 43.4% were female and 56.6% were male. Approximately one-third graduated from medical school in 2001 or later.
Almost two-thirds of responders estimated between 10 to 30% of patient appointments were primarily for minor ailments. These cases do not appear to be a strain on physicians and most would in fact want to see patients about a so-called minor ailment than miss something critical. Physicians indicate that a sizeable portion of those visits see patients mention a self-diagnosis. Most encounters do not turn out to be something more serious. There was not strong support for patients seeing a pharmacist first for a minor ailment. From a list of conditions relevant to pharmacist prescribing, physicians identified Headache/Migraine, Dysmenorrhea, GERD, and Hemorrhoids to be of most concern regarding patient safety, while Cold sores and Athlete’s foot were of least concern.
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