A comparative case study of prescribing and non-prescribing physiotherapists and podiatrists

Nicola Carey, Judith Edwards, Simon Otter, Heather Gage, Peter Williams, Molly Courtenay, Ann Moore, Karen Stenner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Increasing numbers of nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals across the world have prescribing rights for medicines: over 90,000 of the eligible United Kingdom workforce are qualified as non-doctor prescribers. In order to inform future developments, it is important to understand the benefits and impact of prescribing by allied health professionals including physiotherapists and podiatrists. Aim: to compare outcomes of physiotherapist and podiatrist Independent Prescriber (PP- IP) patients with those of physiotherapist and podiatrist non-prescribers (PP-NPs). Outcome measures included patient satisfaction, ease of access to services, quality of life and cost implications. Design: a mixed method comparative case study. Methods: Using mixed methods of data collection, outcomes were compared between 7 sites where care was provided from a PP-IP (3 podiatrist and 4 physiotherapist IPs) and 7 sites from a PP-NP (3 podiatrist and 4 physiotherapist NPs). Patients were followed up for 2 months (2015–2016). Results: 489 patients were recruited: n = 243 IP sites, and n = 246 NP sites. Independent prescribing was found to be highly acceptable, and equivalent in terms of quality of life (p > 0.05) and patient satisfaction (p ≤ 0.05) compared to care provided by NPs. PP-IP care delivery was found to be more resource intensive than PP-NP, with longer consultation duration for IPs (around 6.5 mins), and a higher proportion of physiotherapy patients discussed with medical colleagues (around 9.5 min). Conclusion: This study provides new knowledge that PP-IPs provide high levels of care. PP-IP care delivery was found to be more resource intensive. Further research is required to explore cost effectiveness. A more focussed exploration within each profession using targeted outcome measures would enable a more robust comparison, inform future developments around the world and help ensure non-doctor prescribing is recognised as an effective way to alleviate shortfalls in the global workforce.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1074
    JournalBMC Health Services Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020

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    • Comparative case study
    • Independent prescribing
    • Physiotherapy
    • Podiatry


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