Community pharmacy services for people with drug problems over two decades in Scotland: Implications for future development



Matheson C, Thiruvothiyur M, Robertson HD & Bond CM (2016) Community pharmacy services for people with drug problems over two decades in Scotland: Implications for future development. International Journal of Drug Policy, 27, pp. 105-112.

Background: In Scotland community pharmacies are heavily involved in service delivery for people with drug problems (PWDP) as documented through surveys of all community pharmacies in 1995, 2000 and 2006. A further survey in 2014 enabled trends in service demand/provision to be analysed and provides insight into future development. Methods: The lead pharmacist in every Scottish pharmacy (n = 1246) was invited to complete a postal questionnaire covering attitudes towards PWDP and service provision and level of involvement in services (needle exchange, dispensing for PWDP and methadone supervision). Additional questions covered new services of take-home naloxone (THN) and pharmacist prescribing for opioid dependence. Telephone follow-up of non-responders covered key variables. A comparative analysis of four cross-sectional population surveys of the community pharmacy workforce (1995, 2000, 2006 and 2014) was undertaken. Results: Completed questionnaires were returned by 709 (57%) pharmacists in 2014. Key variables (questionnaire or telephone follow-up) were available from 873 (70%). The proportion of pharmacies providing needle exchange significantly increased from 1995 to 2014 (8.6%, 9.5%, 12.2%, 17.8%, p< 0.001) as did the proportion of pharmacies dispensing for the treatment of drug misuse (58.9%, 73.4%, 82.6% and 88%, p< 0.001). Methadone was dispensed to 16,406 individuals and buprenorphine to 1777 individuals (increased from 12,400 and 192 respectively in 2006). Attitudes improved significantly from 1995 to 2014 (p<. 0.001). Being male and past training in drug misuse significantly predicted higher attitude scores (p< 0.05) in all four years. Attitude score was a consistently significant predictor in all four years for dispensing for the treatment of drug misuse [OR = 1.1 (1995 and 2006, CI 1.1-1.3, and 2014 CI 1.1-1.4) and 1.2 (2000), CI 1.3-1.5] and providing needle exchange [OR = 1.1 (1995 and 2006), CI 1.1-1.2, 1.1-1.3 and 1.2 (2000 and 2014), CI 1.1-1.3 and 1.1-1.5]. In 2014, 53% of pharmacists felt part of the addiction team and 27.7% did not feel their role was valued by them. Nine pharmacists prescribed for opioid dependence. Conclusion: It is possible for pharmacy workforce attitudes and service engagement to improve over time. Training was key to these positive trends. Communication with the wider addiction team could be further developed.

Pharmacy; Attitudes; Training; Workforce; Opiate replacement treatment; Drug misuse; Naloxone;

International Journal of Drug Policy: Volume 27

Publication date31/01/2016
Publication date online27/11/2015
Date accepted by journal16/11/2015

People (1)


Professor Catriona Matheson

Professor Catriona Matheson

Professor in Substance Use, Faculty of Social Sciences