Open Access Open Badges Research article

Factors affecting collaboration between general practitioners and community pharmacists: a qualitative study

Maria Rubio-Valera12*, Anna Maria Jové23, Carmel M Hughes4, Mireia Guillen-Solà25, Marta Rovira25 and Ana Fernández12

Author affiliations

1 Research and Development Unit, Fundació Sant Joan de Déu, Calle Picasso 13, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, 08830, Spain

2 Red de Investigación en Actividades Preventivas y Promoción de la Salud (RedIAPP), Barcelona, Spain

3 Primary Care Health Center Manso, Catalan Health Service (ICS), Carrer de Manso 19, Barcelona, 08015, Spain

4 Clinical and Practice Research Group, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Pharmacy, Medical Biology Center, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK

5 Primary Health Care Center Mallorca, Research Unit, Health care Services of Balearic Isles (IB-Salut), Calle Reina Esclaramunda 9, Palma de Mallorca, 07003, Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:188  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-188

Published: 7 July 2012



Although general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacists (CPs) are encouraged to collaborate, a true collaborative relationship does not exist between them. Our objective was to identify and analyze factors affecting GP-CP collaboration.


This was a descriptive-exploratory qualitative study carried out in two Spanish regions: Catalonia (Barcelona) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca). Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with GPs and CPs from Barcelona and Mallorca (January 2010-February 2011). Analysis was conducted using Colaizzi’s method.


Thirty-seven interviews were conducted. The factors affecting the relationship were different depending on timing: 1) Before collaboration had started (prior to collaboration) and 2) Once the collaboration had been initiated (during collaboration). Prior to collaboration, four key factors were found to affect it: the perception of usefulness; the Primary Care Health Center (PCHC) manager’s interest; the professionals’ attitude; and geography and legislation. These factors were affected by economic and organizational aspects (i.e. resources or PCHC management styles) and by professionals’ opinions and beliefs (i.e. perception of the existence of a public-private conflict). During collaboration, the achievement of objectives and the changes in the PCHC management were the key factors influencing continued collaboration. The most relevant differences between regions were due to the existence of privately-managed PCHCs in Barcelona that facilitated the implementation of collaboration. In comparison with the group with experience in collaboration, some professionals without experience reported a skeptical attitude towards it, reporting that it might not be necessary.


Factors related to economic issues, management and practitioners’ attitudes and perceptions might be crucial for triggering collaboration. Interventions and strategies derived from these identified factors could be applied to achieve multidisciplinary collaboration.

Interprofessional Relations; Family Physicians; Pharmacists; Qualitative Research