Exploring discrimination towards pharmacists in practice settings
Background: Discrimination towards pharmacists, as a public-facing health professional group, is reported but not well-studied.
Objectives: The aims of this study were to identify accounts of discrimination in pharmacy practice and to explore the nature and impacts of and discrimination experienced by pharmacists.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was emailed to practice-based preceptors associated with the School of Pharmacy at the University of Otago. The survey included demographic questions, in addition to questions asking about the frequency and sources of different types of discrimination and abuse encountered in practice. Survey respondents could also provide their contact information for follow-up interviews. Interviews occurred after completion of the survey to better understand the nature of discrimination in pharmacy practice. A thematic analysis of interview transcripts was conducted to identify pertinent themes.
Results: A total of 43 participants completed the survey. A total of 29 (67.4%) respondents reported experiencing discrimination in pharmacy practice. The most common types of discrimination experienced included discrimination based on gender, appearance, or past, present, or expected pregnancy. Verbal abuse and sexual harassment were also frequently reported. Most discrimination was sourced from patients, colleagues, or supervisors/leaders. Discrimination specific to pregnancy was largely sourced from supervisors/leaders. Verbal abuse was sources primarily from patients, patient’s family, supervisors/leaders, and other healthcare professionals. Patients were the primary source of sexual harassment. Three themes were identified from the interview phase: Discrimination occurs for a variety of reasons from different sources with different behaviors, the impact on a person is individualized/personal, and preventative strategies can be broad and encompass multiple layers of society.
Conclusions: Findings of this study support the notion that training programs must adjust to adequately train pharmacists with effective coping strategies, prevention mechanisms, and resilience building strategies. Pharmacist employers should also be accountable to creating zero tolerance workplaces and providing route maps for how pharmacists report and navigate situations when faced with discrimination. Doing so may result in a better equipped workforce that is able to navigate the pressures encountered through discrimination in practice.
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