Barriers and enablers to collaborative working between GPs and pharmacists: a qualitative interview study

Polly R Duncan*, Matthew J Ridd, Deborah Mccahon, Bruce Guthrie, Christie Cabral

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Many UK GP practices now employ a practice pharmacist but little is known about how GPs and pharmacists work together to optimise medications for complex patients with multimorbidity.

To explore GP and pharmacist perspectives on collaborative working within the context of optimising medications for patients with multimorbidity.

Design and setting
Semi-structured interviews with GPs and pharmacists working in the West of England, Northern England and Scotland.

Thirteen GPs and ten pharmacists were purposefully sampled from practices enrolled in the 3D trial. Participants’ views on collaborative working were explored with interviews that were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Saturation of data was achieved with no new insights arising from later interviews.

GPs from surgeries that employed a pharmacist tended to value their expertise more than GPs who had not worked with one. Three key themes were identified: resources and competing priorities; responsibility; and professional boundaries. GPs valued recommendations made by pharmacists that were perceived to improve patient safety, as opposed to those that were technical and unlikely to benefit the patient. Pharmacists who were not known to GPs felt under-valued and wanted feedback from the GPs about their recommendations, particularly those that were not actioned.

A good working relationship between the GP and pharmacist, where each profession understood the other’s skills and expertise, was key. The importance of face-to-face meetings and feedback should be considered in future studies of interdisciplinary interventions; and by GP practices that employ practice pharmacists and other allied health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e155-e163
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number692
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Polypharmacy
  • medication review
  • primary care
  • qualitative research


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