Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 536–543 | Cite as

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

  • Laura McCann
  • Carmel M. HughesEmail author
  • Colin G. Adair
Research article


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.


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



We thank all pharmacists who took part in the work sampling study.


This study was funded under a studentship provided to Laura McCann from the Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development (NICPLD).

Conflicts of interest

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura McCann
    • 1
  • Carmel M. Hughes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Colin G. Adair
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PharmacyQueen’s University BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland, UK
  2. 2.Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and DevelopmentQueen’s University BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland, UK

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