Examining the attitudes of hospital pharmacists to reporting medication safety incidents using the theory of planned behaviour

Int J Qual Health Care. 2015 Aug;27(4):297-304. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzv044. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Objective: To assess the effect of factors within hospital pharmacists' practice on the likelihood of their reporting a medication safety incident.

Design: Theory of planned behaviour (TPB) survey.

Setting: Twenty-one general and teaching hospitals in the North West of England.

Participants: Two hundred and seventy hospital pharmacists (response rate = 45%).

Intervention: Hospital pharmacists were invited to complete a TPB survey, based on a prescribing error scenario that had resulted in serious patient harm. Multiple regression was used to determine the relative influence of different TPB variables, and participant demographics, on the pharmacists' self-reported intention to report the medication safety incident.

Main outcome measures: The TPB variables predicting intention to report: attitude towards behaviour, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and descriptive norm.

Results: Overall, the hospital pharmacists held strong intentions to report the error, with senior pharmacists being more likely to report. Perceived behavioural control (ease or difficulty of reporting), Descriptive Norms (belief that other pharmacists would report) and Attitudes towards Behaviour (expected benefits of reporting) showed good correlation with, and were statistically significant predictors of, intention to report the error [R = 0.568, R(2) = 0.323, adjusted R(2) = 0.293, P < 0.001].

Conclusions: This study suggests that efforts to improve medication safety incident reporting by hospital pharmacists should focus on their behavioural and control beliefs about the reporting process. This should include instilling greater confidence about the benefits of reporting and not harming professional relationships with doctors, greater clarity about what/not to report and a simpler reporting system.

Keywords: adverse events; incident reporting; patient safety, drug errors; pharmacy.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / psychology*
  • Pharmacists / psychology*
  • Pharmacists / statistics & numerical data
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires