Perceptions of Pharmacy Involvement in Social Prescribing Pathways in England, Scotland and Wales

Social prescribing is increasingly viewed as a non-pharmacological option to address psychosocial consequences of social isolation, loneliness and bereavement; key contributors to poor mental health and wellbeing. Our study explored experiences and attitudes of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to social prescribing in England, Scotland, and Wales, using an on-line survey. (Ethical approval, University of Bath, November 2017). The electronic survey was distributed to pharmacists registered with Royal Pharmaceutical Society local practice forum network groups in England, Scotland, and Wales, and pharmacy technicians via social media platforms. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and free text by thematic analysis. One hundred and twenty respondents took part in the survey; (94.6% pharmacists and 5.4% pharmacy technicians). Responses indicated a lack of knowledge and experience with social prescribing; however, there was enthusiasm for pharmacists and the wider pharmacy team to be involved in local social prescribing pathways. Respondents believed they were well positioned within the community and consequently able to be involved in identifying individuals that may benefit. Barriers to involvement, included time, funding and training while enablers were pharmacist skills and the need within the community for social prescribing. There is a willingness in pharmacy, to be involved in social prescribing, however further research is required to enable pharmacy to be full participants in social prescribing pathways.