Psychosocial factors, workload, and human error in a simulated pharmacy dispensing task

Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Feb;92(1):53-71. doi: 10.2466/pms.2001.92.1.53.


Participants filled 42 orders on a task designed to simulate components of filling prescriptions. Task factors included objective workload of 70- versus 80-min. to complete the task and perceptions of workload dimensions using the NASA Task Load Index. The proportion and pattern of data-entry, counting, and product-selection errors were compatible with those found in pharmacy field-sites. Significant other relationship stress, field-dependence, and an 80-min. workpace predicted data-entry errors. Mistakes in product selection were associated with low GPA, high social stress, the NASA Task Load Index dimension of less concern with performing well, and a 70-min. workpace. Relationship of data to corresponding information in the pharmacy literature and to assumptions of a cognitive-systems performance model was discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmaceutical Services / standards*
  • Random Allocation
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Workload*