The relationship between knowledge, attitudes, and practices of community pharmacists regarding persons with substance use disorders
Community pharmacists can play a meaningful role in identification and treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). However, inadequate disease knowledge and negative attitudes are known barriers. The relationship between knowledge, attitudes, and practice of pharmacists regarding persons with SUD has not been evaluated comprehensively in the United States. The objective of the study was to assess knowledge of community pharmacists regarding medications for SUD and evaluate their attitudes, levels of stigma, and clinical practices in SUD. A questionnaire was developed to assess practices, knowledge, screening services, and attitudes toward harm reduction strategies and treatment. A standardized measure of stigma was included along with demographics. A cross-sectional electronic survey was conducted in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia among a non-probability sample of community pharmacists working for a retail pharmacy chain = 910) and a local alumni network ( = 50). Scores were calculated for each factor and descriptive analyses, mean differences (-tests and ANOVA), correlations with demographics and practice characteristics were performed. Linear and ordinal regressions were utilized to predict knowledge, practice, screening, and stigma scores. A total of 134 responses (response rate 13.9%) were collected. On average, the pharmacists were 38 years old, had worked for 15 years, primarily full-time with practice locations in suburban settings. Only 53% reported they received SUD education in pharmacy school. Pharmacists received a mean score of 5.5 and 3.5 out of eight and seven on knowledge and practice scales, respectively. Pharmacists overall had slightly stigmatizing and negative attitudes, with higher stigma significantly related to performing lesser services and considering screenings as important. Number of years worked significantly predicted knowledge and screening. Relationships between knowledge, attitudes, and practices indicate a need for experiential education that includes psychosocial aspects of care with increased opportunities for practice.