Understanding of healthcare professionals towards the roles and competencies of clinical pharmacists in South Africa

L. Crafford*, Ra Kusurkar, E. Bronkhorst, Ags Gous, A. Wouters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Incorporating clinical pharmacists in collaborative medical teams results in better patient treatment and health outcomes. In addition, the understanding of other healthcare professionals (HCPs) towards the role of clinical pharmacists can either facilitate or hinder the implementation and expansion of these services. The main distinction between pharmacists and clinical pharmacists lie in their different scope of duties. This study set out to explore other HCPs’ understanding towards the role of the clinical pharmacists in South Africa, and to identify associated factors. Methods: An exploratory, survey-based, quantitative study was conducted. A survey assessing HCPs’ understanding based on the competencies and role of a clinical pharmacist was distributed to 300 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and clinical pharmacists. An exploratory factor analysis was carried out to determine the construct validity of the measurement. Items were analysed for grouping into subscales through principal components analysis. Differences in the variable scores for gender, age, work experience and previous experience working with a clinical pharmacist were analyzed using independent t-tests. Analysis of variance was used to analyze differences in the variable scores for the different HCPs and the different departments of work in the hospital. Results: The factor analysis yielded two separate subscales, measuring HCPs’ (n = 188) understanding towards the role of a clinical pharmacist, as well as the competencies of a clinical pharmacist. Doctors (85, n = 188) (p = 0.004) and nurses (76, n = 188) (p = 0.022), working in both surgical and non-surgical units, had significantly poorer understanding of the role of clinical pharmacists than clinical pharmacists (8, n = 188) and pharmacists (19, n = 188) (p = 0.028). Where specific clinical pharmacist activities were described, 5–16% of pharmacists were unsure whether an activity forms part of a clinical pharmacist’s role. Over 50% of the clinical pharmacists disagreed that their role also includes pharmacist’s activities, like stock procurement and control, pharmacy and administrative work, and hospital pharmacy-medication dispensing activities. Conclusion: The findings highlighted the possible impact of role expectations and lack of understanding among HCPs. A standard job description with recognition from statutory bodies could promote other HCPs, as well as clinical pharmacists’ understanding of their roles. Findings further suggested the need for interventions like interprofessional education opportunities, staff induction programmes and regular interprofessional meetings to foster acknowledgement of clinical pharmacy services, promoting the acceptance and growth of the profession.

Original languageEnglish
Article number290
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Clinical pharmacy
  • Competencies
  • Health professions role
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Pharmacist


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