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Canadians embracing expanded role of pharmacists. Survey shows deep trust in profession, appreciation for positive impact on health outcomes

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Canadians are increasingly aware and supportive of the expanded role pharmacists are playing in delivering needed health care services including flu shots, advice on medications, and treatment of common ailments.

A new national survey by Abacus Data, to coincide with Pharmacist Awareness Month, found that Canadians are increasingly familiar with the services pharmacists can provide. Compared to a similar survey in 2015, more Canadians realize that pharmacists can give a flu shot (up 4 points to 88%), prescribe for minor conditions (up 4 points to 63%), administer other vaccines (up 5 points to 61%), make a therapeutic substitution (up 11 points to 53%), or adapt prescriptions (up 6 points to 45%).

Depending on the province or territory, pharmacists have been granted authorities to renew prescriptions, change drugs and dosages for the benefit of patients, prescribe and inject drugs, and order/interpret lab tests.

“Clearly Canadians are responding positively to the increasing role of pharmacists, as we are seeing more and more of them looking toward their pharmacist for health care services and advice,” said Carlo Berardi, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association. “This is a testament to the professional, high-quality care pharmacists are providing and our trusted reputation among Canadians.”

According to the Abacus survey, 95% of respondents have a positive impression of pharmacists and more than 90% of those surveyed say pharmacists have a key role in the health care system. Two-thirds of Canadians surveyed put pharmacists in their top three most important sources of information when it comes to not only new drugs but health care in general.

Canadians are recognizing the advantages of expanded scope.  Just over 4 in 5 Canadians, 81%, say allowing pharmacists to do more for patients will improve health outcomes. An even bigger number, 83%, say that letting pharmacists do more will reduce health care costs.

Specifically, a strong majority of Canadians expressed their trust in pharmacists to manage both common ailments and chronic health conditions, and provide advice on healthy lifestyle changes, medicines and vaccinations. These levels of trust are comparable to doctors and nurses.

Canadian pharmacists are increasingly a trusted source of health care information and services. Canadians know that when pharmacists have the authority to provide health services it leads to better care, better health and better value for our health care dollar.

The survey on perceptions and attitudes about pharmacists was conducted online with a representative sample of 3,824 Canadians aged 18 and older.  The survey was completed from February 19 to 25, 2016 by Abacus Data.

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