Only 6 per cent of people in England would contact a pharmacist for healthy living advice, a survey has suggested.
The face-to-face survey of 1,625 people, conducted by market research company Ipsos Mori in June, found that 57 per cent would contact a GP or nurse if they wanted information on quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, eating healthily or exercising more.
The NHS and the internet were also more popular options than pharmacy, with 18 per cent saying they would turn to either for advice, according to the study published by Public Health England on Friday (August 8).
The profession also ranked poorly as a source of information for threats to health, such as infectious diseases, health emergencies and poisons, the survey revealed. Only 3 per cent said they would use pharmacy, compared to 39 per cent who would visit a GP or nurse and 17 per cent who would go online.
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott labelled the figures "disappointing", but said he was not surprised the public turned to GPs and nurses as their first port of call.
"We know that people ideally like to see their GP but we are increasingly focused on ways to expand the public's horizons about what the pharmacy team can do. Pharmacy teams can help too, ensuring their communities are aware of the advice and knowledge they can offer," he told C+D.
The survey revealed that pharmacy was seen as a reliable source of health advice, with 57 per cent saying they trusted it "a fair amount" – the same proportion as for NHS bodies and the Department of Health. Twenty seven per cent said they trusted pharmacy "a great deal" while 10 per cent did not trust the sector "at all", Ipsos Mori said.
Last month, a YouGov survey commissioned by Pharmacy Voice showed that only a third of people considered community pharmacy to be a primary care provider.
Who would you contact if you wished to get information on how to stay healthy?
18% The NHS
18% Website, eg Google, Wikipedia
7% NHS Choices
6% Department of Health
5% Friend/relative/work colleague
5% I would not want any information
4% Local hospital/clinic
4% Don't know
3% A charity/voluntary organisation
2% I would not know who to contact
1% Gym/personal trainer
1% Public Health England/PHE
1% My local authority/council
1% Local service in my community
Source: Public awareness and opinion survey, Public Health England, conducted June 2014, published August 8