The relationships among work stress, strain and self-reported errors in UK community pharmacy

Res Social Adm Pharm. Nov-Dec 2014;10(6):885-895. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2013.12.003. Epub 2014 Jan 3.


Background: Changes in the UK community pharmacy profession including new contractual frameworks, expansion of services, and increasing levels of workload have prompted concerns about rising levels of workplace stress and overload. This has implications for pharmacist health and well-being and the occurrence of errors that pose a risk to patient safety. Despite these concerns being voiced in the profession, few studies have explored work stress in the community pharmacy context.

Objectives: To investigate work-related stress among UK community pharmacists and to explore its relationships with pharmacists' psychological and physical well-being, and the occurrence of self-reported dispensing errors and detection of prescribing errors.

Method: A cross-sectional postal survey of a random sample of practicing community pharmacists (n = 903) used ASSET (A Shortened Stress Evaluation Tool) and questions relating to self-reported involvement in errors. Stress data were compared to general working population norms, and regressed on well-being and self-reported errors.

Results: Analysis of the data revealed that pharmacists reported significantly higher levels of workplace stressors than the general working population, with concerns about work-life balance, the nature of the job, and work relationships being the most influential on health and well-being. Despite this, pharmacists were not found to report worse health than the general working population. Self-reported error involvement was linked to both high dispensing volume and being troubled by perceived overload (dispensing errors), and resources and communication (detection of prescribing errors).

Conclusions: This study contributes to the literature by benchmarking community pharmacists' health and well-being, and investigating sources of stress using a quantitative approach. A further important contribution to the literature is the identification of a quantitative link between high workload and self-reported dispensing errors.

Keywords: Error; Overload; Patient safety; Pharmacy; Stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmacists / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload / psychology*