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Optometrist prescribing of therapeutic agents: findings of the AESOP survey

Mason, A. and Mason, J. (2002) Optometrist prescribing of therapeutic agents: findings of the AESOP survey. Health Policy, 60 (2). pp. 185-197. ISSN 0168-8510

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Throughout the USA and in some parts of Australia and Canada, licensed optometrists may prescribe therapeutic agents for certain eye conditions. However, this role is not currently available to European optometrists. The extension of prescribing rights to new professional groups was the subject of a UK government-commissioned review, which cited optometrists as potential candidates. A recent literature review found limited evidence to assess the appropriateness of eye care delivered by different health care providers. To inform the UK decision, we therefore conducted a national postal survey to explore how optometric practice might change with the introduction of therapeutic prescribing. The Anonymous Enquiry of the Scope for Optometrist Prescribing (AESOP), was sent to a random 10% sample of registered optometrists. Over 80% of respondents indicated that optometrists should be able to train as therapeutic prescribers. Most respondents were willing to undergo training, periodic re-accreditation and continuing education, as well to participate in simple professional audit of their prescribing. Respondents anticipated that referrals to general practitioners (GPs) would be reduced by nearly 40% and to ophthalmologists via a GP by nearly 20%. Optometrist participation could increase patient access to therapeutic ocular care by between 29% and 50%. Authorising UK optometrists to prescribe therapeutically for eye diseases would appear to make good use of their existing skills and improve patient access to eye care, while relieving pressures upon other healthcare providers. Tentative economic analysis suggests that the introduction of independent optometrist prescribing may be cost neutral. However, adequate comparative research on the performance of optometrists as prescribers is needed and the issue of reimbursement will require careful consideration.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Health Economics (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 28 May 2009 14:52
Last Modified: 28 May 2009 14:52
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0168-8510(01)00197-X
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V.
Identification Number: 10.1016/S0168-8510(01)00197-X
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6192

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