Stressors in the pharmacy: An observational study of interruptions

Mary E. Burford, Alison E. Yeck, Johnny A. Tucker, Linsey M. Barker, Kalyan S. Pasupathy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Errors in the healthcare field are a significant problem. Interruptions leading to distractions have been identified as an important cause of errors. Within the pharmacy, interruptions leading to medication errors have received particular attention. Both external and internal sources can cause interruptions, which can distract the pharmacists and the technicians from their tasks. Hence it is important to study interruptions, their types, how they are caused, where and when they come from, how long they last, and how pharmacists and technicians feel about them. The objectives of this observational and survey study were to: 1) classify interruptions based on the type of interruption and cause, time, location, and duration, 2) identify differences in interruption types, duration and frequency across days of the week or time of day, and 3) quantify pharmacist perceptions related to workload and stressors (e.g. interruptions) in their work environment, through an employee survey. Results indicate that 64% of interruptions were classified as incoming phone calls, and the mean duration of interruptions is 1.14 minutes. Further, pharmacists and technicians differ in their perceptions of workload and reported top stressors. Analyzing stressors, including interruptions and their causes, can aid in improving the processes and increasing safety within the pharmacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 55th Annual Meeting, HFES 2011
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2011
Event55th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, HFES 2011 - Las Vegas, NV, United States
Duration: Sep 19 2011Sep 23 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
ISSN (Print)1071-1813


Other55th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, HFES 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLas Vegas, NV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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