Research Article

International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 417-424

Attitudes of community pharmacists to antibiotic dispensing and microbial resistance: a qualitative study in Portugal

  • Fátima RoqueAffiliated withCenter for Cell Biology, University of Aveiro (CBC/UA)Research Unit for Inland Development, Polytechnic Institute of Guarda (UDI/IPG)University of Beira Interior (UBI) Email author 
  • , Sara SoaresAffiliated withCenter for Cell Biology, University of Aveiro (CBC/UA)
  • , Luiza BreitenfeldAffiliated withHealth Sciences Research Centre, University of Beira Interior (CICS/UBI)
  • , Ana López-DuránAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Psychology, University of Santiago de Compostela
  • , Adolfo FigueirasAffiliated withConsortium for Biomedical Research in Epidemiology & Public Health (CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública-CIBERESP), University of Santiago de Compostela
  • , Maria Teresa HerdeiroAffiliated withCenter for Cell Biology, University of Aveiro (CBC/UA)Center for Health Technology & Information Systems Research (CINTESIS/FMUP), University of PortoHealth Technology Research Center (CITS/CESPU)

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Background The inappropriate use of antibiotics is considered a main cause of microbial resistance. This is an important public health problem. Community pharmacists have an important role in the management of drugs for outpatients. Objective Our study sought to explore pharmacists’ knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and dispensing habits insofar as to antibiotics and microbial resistance. Setting The study was developed with community pharmacists in the North of Portugal. Methods Qualitative research in the form of focus groups (FG). Focus groups were conducted with 4–7 pharmacists, using a moderator. A topic guide was developed to lead the discussions, which were audio-recorded and transcribed. The study was carried out between December 2010 and March 2011 in the five districts of the Northern Health Region of Portugal (ARS-N). Pharmacists from different regions of each district were invited to participate in the study by an investigator responsible for the study. Participants were informed about the study and that sessions were audio-recorded to facilitate data interpretation. They signed an informed consent form before taking part in the focus groups. The Ethical Committee of ARS-N was informed of this study. Main outcome measure Pharmacists’ knowledge and perceptions on antibiotic use and microbial resistance, attitudes related to antibiotic dispensing habits, and pharmacists’ suggestions to improve antibiotic use. Results A total of 6 focus groups were conducted with community pharmacists (n = 32). Attitudes related to the problem of resistance were attributed external responsibility, to patients, to physicians, to other pharmacies, and to veterinary consumption. Some attitudes were identified that could lead to antibiotic dispensing without a prescription. These attitudes are complacency, precaution and external complacency. Conclusions Portuguese pharmacists perceive that antibiotic use and bacterial resistance could be improved, showing a behavioural intention to improve antibiotic dispensing habits.


Antibiotic dispensing Antimicrobial drug resistance Community pharmacists Pharmacist attitudes Portugal Qualitative study