Pharmacy Student Dispensing Behaviors in Practice-Based Dilemmas

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Objectives: To examine the extent to which pharmacy students’ attitudes, subjective norm beliefs, and perceived behavioral control beliefs explain gray dispensing decisions, using the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a framework. Method: Third professional year pharmacy students (n=159) from two academic cohorts were provided three written case scenarios: (1) a dentist prescribing outside of his scope of practice; (2) a physician prescribing for a family member; and (3) a patient who was out of refills on insulin. A brief questionnaire assessed TPB constructs, whether or not the student would dispense the medication, and the number of times the student would dispense in 10 similar situations. Composite scores were calculated for TPB constructs after analyzing internal consistency reliability. Linear regression techniques were used to analyze the influence of the constructs on mean intent to dispense in similar scenarios. Results: The percent of students who indicated they would dispense in each scenario was 68% in scenario 1, 74% in scenario 2, and 81% in scenario 3. For all case scenarios, mean intent to dispense in similar scenarios was explained by attitude scores (p≤0.006). For the insulin refill and family prescribing cases, mean intent to dispense was also explained by subjective norm beliefs (pImplications: Student attitudes consistently predicted intention to dispense across the gray scenarios. These findings can be used to develop and target upstream TPB construct interventions in pharmacy education that influence students’ downstream dispensing decisions. Additional research is warranted to determine if TBP constructs similarly explain the dispensing behaviors of practicing pharmacists.


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© Copyright American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. This abstract was originally published in (2017). 118th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Nashville, Tennessee, July 15-19, 2017. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education: Volume 81, Issue 5, Article S5.

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