The role of community pharmacists in prescribing medication for the treatment of head lice

Zoë Philips*, David Whynes, Sandra Parnham, Richard Slack, Stephen Earwicker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The aim of the study was to discover whether the use of community pharmacy, rather than general practice, as the first port of call for suspected head lice infestation would represent an acceptable, effective and cost-reducing means of management in the community. Methods: A before-and-after study was carried out of a new system of care delivery. Between September and November 1997, pharmacists in Nottingham City West recorded details of all patients attending with prescriptions for head lice treatment or those purchasing over-the-counter medication. The new system of care delivery began in January 1998, during which, pharmacists were providing advice and treatment for head lice, in the absence of a referral from general practice. Changes in prescribing behaviour were assessed from Prescribing Analysis and Cost (PACT) data. Acceptability and subjective assessment of the scheme (patients and professionals) was gauged from questionnaires. Results: Referral patterns were altered drastically (away from general practice and towards self-referral) by the project, and the changes were apparent within the first month. This trend continued throughout and beyond the formal evaluation period. Cost analysis suggests that the community pharmacy scheme generates resource savings, largely driven by the lower cost of a pharmacy consultation, as opposed to a GP consultation. Questionnaire evidence suggests that both patients and health care professionals viewed the new arrangement as at least as acceptable as the old. Conclusion: With respect to the original objective, the new delivery system appears to provide no evidence of ineffectiveness; evidence of acceptability on the part of the majority of patients and professionals; and evidence of improved cost-effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to record their appreciation for the contributions made to the project by Mindi Bassi, Pharmaceutical Advisor, Nottingham Health Authority; Bob Onley, Secretary to the Local Pharmaceutical Committee; and Peter Marks, Clinical Director for Primary Care, Nottingham Health Authority. The project would have been impossible without the generous and enthusiastic support of the managers and staff of the pharmacies in West Nottingham, the GPs, and the contractors. Nottingham Health Authority provided financial support for the main project. The Department of Health funded the project extension. The National Pharmaceutical Association and Nottingham Health Authority underwrote Sandra Parnham’s time. Members of the management and evaluation team would like to pay tribute to Bob Onley, Local Pharmaceutical Committee Secretary, who sadly died while this project was being conducted. Bob worked continuously to promote community pharmacy in Nottingham, and both influenced and positively supported the pharmacy-prescribing project.


  • Community pharmacy
  • Head lice
  • Prescribing


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of community pharmacists in prescribing medication for the treatment of head lice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this