A self-reported work-sampling study in community pharmacy practice: A 2009 update

Laura McCann, Carmel M. Hughes, Colin G. Adair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Using a self-reported work sampling methodology this study investigated how community pharmacists utilised their time, and quantified how much time pharmacists devoted to specific activities. Setting Community pharmacies (n = 30) in the Greater Belfast area. Method A classification system was developed to define all activities (professional, semi-professional, and non-professional tasks) which could potentially be performed by a community pharmacist in the course of a normal working day (from 9.00 to 6.00 pm). A random bleeper device was used which was programmed to bleep randomly approximately 13 times per day (over 12 days) at which time the pharmacist recorded their precise activity (using the classification system) at that time on a proforma. All completed data sheets for each pharmacy were entered into an Excel® spreadsheet, where the number of observations for each activity was expressed as a proportion of the total number of observations per day. Statistical analysis was carried out in SPSS, comparing these data to similar data which had been collected in 1998. Results Pharmacists in this study were found to spend approximately 49% of their time engaged in professional activities, 31% in semi-professional activities and 20% involved in non-professional activities which was similar to that reported in 1998. Most time was spent on assembly and labelling of products, whilst staff training occupied the least amount of pharmacists' time. Pharmacists with a prescription volume of less than 1,499 per month spent significantly more time counselling patients on OTC medicines and responding to symptoms than those dispensing 1,500 items/month or more (P = 0.027). Pharmacists who employed a pre-registration student apportioned less time to the assembly and labelling of products compared to those without a student (P = 0.08). Pharmacists with three or more staff spent less time on coding and endorsing of prescriptions compared to those with less staff (P = 0.086). Conclusion Pharmacists in this study are spending more time checking prescriptions (essential component of pharmaceutical care) and are still managing to spend only 20% of their time on non-professional activities. However, there had been relatively little change in the way in which pharmacists in this sample spent their time compared to a previous study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-543
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacy World and Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2010


  • Community pharmacy
  • Community pharmacy contract
  • Northern Ireland
  • Pharmaceutical care
  • Self-reporting
  • Work sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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