Pharmacists Are Among the Most Trusted Professionals, Says Survey

Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
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New data show that pharmacists are among one of the most trusted groups of professionals in the United States.

The results of Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics survey show that pharmacists ranked second, finishing ahead of physicians and second only to nurses. It is the ninth consecutive year in which pharmacists have ranked in the top 3.

Among respondents, 73% rated the honesty and ethical standards of pharmacists as “very high” or “high,” according to the survey, which measures the public’s trust of professionals across diverse disciplines, including but not limited to healthcare.

“The Gallup survey reflects the unsurpassed value of community pharmacy in improving patient health and reducing healthcare costs across the board,” said Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, in a statement. “As the face of neighborhood healthcare, pharmacists are accessible healthcare providers, with nearly all Americans living within five miles of a community pharmacy.”

The 3 medical professions—nurses, pharmacists, and physicians—were rated highest of the 21 professions. At the other end of the spectrum, the Gallup poll found that Americans gave the least positive honesty and ethics ratings to members of Congress, lobbyists, car salespeople, and telemarketers.

In general, Congress members’ honesty and ethics ratings have never been positive, averaging 15% very high or high ratings and peaking at 25% in 2001. What has changed in recent years is the growing proportion of Americans rating their honesty and ethics as very low or low, increasing from 22% in 2001 to 64% today.

This year’s ratings of members of Congress are the worst for them on record, with 7% rating them as high and 64% as low. Congress is the only profession that established a new low rating for the profession this year. In contrast, the 84% of Americans who rate the honesty and ethics of nurses as very high or high this year is tied for the highest rating nurses have received. They achieved the same rating in 2001, 2006, and 2008.

For pharmacists and physicians, the poll also finds honesty and ethical ratings that tie or set new highs. The trend for physicians dates back to 1976, with 56% rating them highly that year. This year’s 70% rating for physicians tops the previous high from 2006 by 1%. This year’s rating for pharmacists, first measured in 1981, ties the profession’s historical high from 2006.

“As the Gallup survey supports, pharmacists are highly trusted individuals,” said Anderson. “Pharmacists require a minimum of six years of professional education to receive their degree and license. They are highly qualified medical professionals, providing medication therapy management services. Through medication counseling, pharmacists work one-to-one with patients to help them understand why it’s important to take medications as prescribed,” Anderson said.

“Pharmacists also provide myriad additional health services, including administering vaccinations and providing preventive health education and screenings,” he added. “Pharmacists are innovators, working to help electronically integrate health and prescription records, which will help in providing better overall patient care and help reduce administrative costs.”

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