The association of subjective workload dimensions on quality of care and pharmacist quality of work life

Res Social Adm Pharm. 2014 Mar-Apr;10(2):328-40. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2013.05.007. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


Background: Workload has been described both objectively (e.g., number of prescriptions dispensed per pharmacist) as well as subjectively (e.g., pharmacist's perception of busyness). These approaches might be missing important characteristics of pharmacist workload that have not been previously identified and measured.

Objectives: To measure the association of community pharmacists' workload perceptions at three levels (organization, job, and task) with job satisfaction, burnout, and perceived performance of two tasks in the medication dispensing process.

Methods: A secondary data analysis was performed using cross-sectional survey data collected from Wisconsin (US) community pharmacists. Organization-related workload was measured as staffing adequacy; job-related workload was measured as general and specific job demands; task-related workload was measured as internal and external mental demands. Pharmacists' perceived task performance was assessed for patient profile review and patient consultation. The survey was administered to a random sample of 500 pharmacists who were asked to opt in if they were a community pharmacist. Descriptive statistics and correlations of study variables were determined. Two structural equation models were estimated to examine relationships between the study variables and perceived task performance.

Results: From the 224 eligible community pharmacists that agreed to participate, 165 (73.7%) usable surveys were completed and returned. Job satisfaction and job-related monitoring demands had direct positive associations with both dispensing tasks. External task demands were negatively related to perceived patient consultation performance. Indirect effects on both tasks were primarily mediated through job satisfaction, which was positively related to staffing adequacy and cognitive job demands and negatively related to volume job demands. External task demands had an additional indirect effect on perceived patient consultation performance, as it was associated with lower levels of job satisfaction and higher levels of burnout.

Implications/conclusions: Allowing community pharmacists to concentrate on tasks and limiting interruptions while performing these tasks are important factors in improving quality of patient care and pharmacist work life. The results have implications for strategies to improve patient safety and pharmacist performance.

Keywords: Community pharmacy; Medication safety; Structural equation modeling; Workload.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Pharmacy Services
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Health Records, Personal
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacists*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Wisconsin
  • Workforce
  • Workload*