Background: Community pharmacists could play more potential role when finding ways to allocate effectively limited healthcare resources in primary care in many developing countries, including India. Pharmacists could participate in national public health programs, and cooperate effectively with other members of health care team. This small-scale pilot study was designed to develop a method for characterizing physicians’ perceptions on the role of pharmacists in public health and patient care in India. Methods: Six volunteers visited 800 physicians in Southern region in India and collected data in 2014. The survey tool consisted of 28 structured questions concerning: (i) physicians’ experiences of cooperation with pharmacists; (ii) physicians’ general opinion on pharmacists’ involvement in National Public Health Programs (NPHPs) in India; and (iii) pharmacists’ involvement in 11 major NPHPs. The data were collated and extracted and descriptive statistical analysis was conducted by SAS (version 9.3). Results: Of total 800 physicians contacted, 129 responded. Of the responding physicians 98% were comfortable with pharmacists’ roles in general, 96% were comfortable or somewhat comfortable to collaborate with pharmacists, and 82% regarded pharmacists as part of health care team. The physicians with shorter professional practice were more positive on pharmacists’ involvement in NPHPs than physicians having at least 11 years’ experience. Overall response of accepting pharmacists’ role and involvement in NPHPs was positive, Pulse Polio, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Tobacco control, and Leprosy eradication programs being the top NPHPs where physicians perceived pharmacists had a role to play. Conclusion: This small-scale pilot study indicates that Indian physicians are willing to collaborate with pharmacists and are comfortable to involve them in the health care team. The survey also revealed differences in opinions between junior and senior physicians: the longer physicians’ practice experience was, the less favorable they were for pharmacists’ involvement in NPHPs.
Key words: National Public Health Programs, pharmacists India, healthcare, cooperative practice, physicians, pharmacist role in public health