Research is ‘a step into the unknown’: an exploration of pharmacists’ perceptions of factors impacting on research participation in the NHS.

Lowrie, Richard and Morrison, Graeme and Lees, Rosalind and Grant, Christopher H and Johnson, Chris and MacLean, Fiona and Semple, Yvonne and Thomson, Alison and Harrison, Heather and Mullen, Alexander B and Lannigan, Norman and Macdonald, Sara (2015) Research is ‘a step into the unknown’: an exploration of pharmacists’ perceptions of factors impacting on research participation in the NHS. BMJ Open, 5 (12). e009180. ISSN 2044-6055 (

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OBJECTIVE: This study explored National Health Service (NHS) pharmacists' perceptions and experiences of pharmacist-led research in the workplace. DESIGN: Semistructured, face-to-face discussions continued until distinct clusters of opinion characteristics formed. Verbatim transcripts of audio-recordings were subjected to framework analysis. SETTING: Interviews were carried out with 54 pharmacists with diverse backgrounds and roles from general practices and secondary care in the UK's largest health authority. RESULTS: The purpose and potential of health services research (HSR) was understood and acknowledged to be worthwhile by participants, but a combination of individual and system-related themes tended to make participation difficult, except when this was part of formal postgraduate education leading to a qualification. Lack of prioritisation was routinely cited as the greatest barrier, with motivation, confidence and competence as additional impediments. System-related themes included lack of practical support and pharmacy professional issues. A minority of highly motivated individuals managed to embed research participation into routine activity. CONCLUSIONS: Most pharmacists realised the desirability and necessity of research to underpin pharmacy service expansion, but a combination of individual and professional level changes is needed to increase activity. Our findings provide a starting point for better understanding the mindset of hospital-based and general practice-based pharmacists towards research, as well as their perceived barriers and supports.


Lowrie, Richard, Morrison, Graeme, Lees, Rosalind, Grant, Christopher H, Johnson, Chris, MacLean, Fiona ORCID logoORCID:, Semple, Yvonne ORCID logoORCID:, Thomson, Alison ORCID logoORCID:, Harrison, Heather, Mullen, Alexander B ORCID logoORCID:, Lannigan, Norman and Macdonald, Sara;