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Further challenges to medical dominance? The case of nurse and pharmacist supplementary prescribing

Cooper, R .J., Bissell, P., Ward, P., Murphy, E., Anderson, C., Avery, T., James, V., Lymn, J., Guillaume, L., Hutchinson, A. and Ratcliffe, J. (2011) Further challenges to medical dominance? The case of nurse and pharmacist supplementary prescribing. Health, Publis. ISSN 1461-7196

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Doctors have traditionally been viewed as the dominant healthcare profession, with the authority to prescribe medicines, but recent non-medical prescribing initiatives have been viewed as possible challenges to such dominance. Using the example of the introduction of supplementary prescribing in the UK, this study sought to explore whether such initiatives represent a challenge to medical authority. Ten case study sites in England involving primary and secondary care and a range of clinical areas were used to undertake a total of 77 observations of supplementary prescribing consultations and interviews with 28 patients, 11 doctors and nurse and pharmacist prescribers at each site.

Supplementary prescribing was viewed positively by all participants but several doctors and patients appeared to lack awareness and understanding of supplementary prescribing. Continued medical authority was supported empirically in five areas: patients’ and supplementary prescribers’ perception of doctors as being hierarchically superior; doctors legitimation of nurses’ and pharmacists’ prescribing initially; doctors’ belief that they could control (particularly nurses’) access to prescribing training; supplementary prescribers’ frequent recourse to use doctors’ advice, coupled with doctors’ encouragement of such ‘knock on door’ prescribing advice policies; doctors’ denigration of most routine prescribing but claims that diagnosis was more skilled and key to medicine.

Supplementary prescribing appeared to be successfully accomplished in practice in a range of clinical settings and was acceptable to all involved but did not ultimately challenge medical dominance. However, more recent nurse and pharmacist independent prescribing (involving diagnosis) may represent a more significant threat.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2011 Sage. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in Health. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Health and Related Research (Sheffield) > Section of Public Health (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Richard J Cooper
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2011 11:12
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2011 11:12
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363459310364159
Status: Published
Publisher: Sage
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1177/1363459310364159
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43365

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