It could be argued that pharmacy practice research currently has a lower profile than research undertaken by other professions. This is somewhat surprising at a time when governments are advocating greater integration of pharmacy into mainstream health care delivery, particularly in primary care. Although pharmacy practice research has recently attracted larger grants, and some robust evidence is emerging, there remains a paucity of knowledge on the quality of services delivered by pharmacists and a lack of evidence in terms of patient outcomes and value for money. This lack of evidence on outcomes is highlighted in recent policy documents for pharmacy in England and in the Darzi next stage review which emphasises the importance of quality of services and of integrated partnerships and brings sharply into focus the need for rigorous pharmacy practice research on a larger scale. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for researchers. Pharmacy faces an uncertain future, with advanced practice of all health care professions, a stronger emphasis on developing and using evidence in practice and competing priorities from all professions for limited research resources, there is now, more than ever, a need for a structured and strategic national programme for research. This will require pharmacists leading the way in identifying key research priorities across the UK that are commensurate with the aspirations of policy. At the same time consideration must be given to both integrating evidence into practice and building research capacity in pharmacy; a fundamental requirement to the development of a professional evidence base and to a long term strategic view of research.
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