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Social and cognitive influences on prescribing decisions among non-medical prescribers.

McIntosh, Trudi


Trudi McIntosh


Derek C. Stewart

Dorothy McCaig


Non-medical prescribers make an increasing contribution to healthcare across the UK yet little is known about influences on their prescribing decision-making. The aim of this programme of research was to explore and describe prescribing decision-making by non-medical prescribers. A two stage programme of research was carried out. Stage 1 was a systematic review of the social and cognitive influences on prescribing decision-making by non-medical prescribers. Despite a paucity of research, various influences on prescribing decision-making were reported including evidence based guidelines, peer support and patient (or parental) relationships and expectations. While confidence and clinical experience as a practitioner were cited as influences, the lack of prescribing experience and aspects of pharmacological knowledge also impacted on prescribing decision-making, resulting in a cautious approach. Stage 2 of the research employed a phenomenological methodology underpinned by the Theoretical Domains Framework of behavioural determinants (TDF). It comprised three phases. In Phase 1, semi-structured interviews with five nurse prescribers and eight pharmacist prescribers in NHS Grampian explored their experiences and perceptions of influences on their prescribing decision-making, and the impact of these influences. Multiple and sometimes contradictory influences were uncovered. Twelve of the fourteen domains of the TDF were found to be influential along with multi-disciplinary working and experience; optimism and reinforcement did not feature. In Phase 2, these participants recorded reflections on prescribing decisions which they considered noteworthy in relation to their practice, and in Phase 3 participants were interviewed about their reflections. Complexity was a feature of many, in the patients clinical or social circumstances or in relation to wider concerns. The same 12 domains were found to be influential as were multi-disciplinary working, experience and complexity. This programme of research has produced original findings which it is hoped will impact on the education, training and practice of these increasingly important prescribers.


MCINTOSH, T. 2017. Social and cognitive influences on prescribing decisions among non-medical prescribers. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2018
Keywords Nonmedical prescribers; Prescribing decisionmaking; Influences; Systematic review; Theoretical Domains Framework; Interviews
Public URL
Award Date Sep 30, 2017


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