Using the theory of planned behavior to investigate community pharmacists’ beliefs regarding engaging patients about prescription drug misuse

Marc L. Fleming, Shweta S. Bapat, Tyler J. Varisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Introduction: Opioid misuse causes over 50,000 deaths in America each year. Prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) databases serve as a useful decision analysis tool in managing patients with known or potential opioid use disorder (OUD). To date, however, little research has sought to determine how pharmacists use PDMPs to engage patients with potential OUD. Objectives: To elicit modal salient beliefs of community pharmacists regarding their willingness to engage patients (i.e., provide interventional counseling) with suspected controlled substance misuse as identified from reviewing PDMP data. Methods: Focus groups were conducted among Texas community pharmacists using the theory of planned behavior as a theoretical framework. Open-ended questions were used to capture behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs and control beliefs associated with pharmacists’ engagement. Qualitative analysis using ATLAS.ti software was conducted to identify modal salient beliefs elicited by at least 20% of the study sample. Results: A total of 31 community pharmacists participated. Fifteen behavioral beliefs, thirteen normative beliefs and eleven control beliefs were identified as modal salient beliefs. The most prevalent behavioral belief was the disadvantage associated with patient confrontations. Pharmacists also believed that engaging patients may cause loss of customers/business but may help patients receive appropriate counseling. When asked about their normative beliefs, pharmacists identified regulatory agencies (e.g., pharmacy boards, law enforcement) and family/friends of patients as groups of individuals who influence their willingness to refer. Time required for counseling was found to be the most commonly cited control belief. Conclusion: The results illustrate some of the challenges faced by community pharmacists when considering engagement of patients with misuse of prescription opioids. Addressing these barriers to patient engagement is critical to increasing pharmacists’ willingness to engage patients with potential OUD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-999
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Barriers
  • Counseling
  • Facilitators
  • Patient engagement
  • Pharmacist
  • Prescription opioids


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